...or so this story in today's Daily Mail
would have you believe. According to the article, words like cripes
all dying out because younger generations simply don't know what they
bally mean (And it's perhaps not just the fault of the younger
generation but technology as well because my spell-checker has just
red-lined both cripes
The story seems to be linked to the publication of a survey for the book Planet Word
(presumably a tie-in to Stephen Fry's BBC series of the same name) and
to be fair, the expert they quote, the author of the book JP Davidson,
doesn't bemoan the alleged decline, but has this to say:
This could be viewed as regrettable,
as there are some great descriptive words that are being lost and these
words would make our everyday language much more colourful and fun if we
were to use them.
'But it's only natural that with
people trying to fit as much information in 140 characters that words
are getting shortened and are even becoming redundant as a result.
'The folly is to try and stem the tide of
the new whether they emerge from rap, technology, teenspeak, or the
multitude of jargons that we invent to make shortcuts and communication
more efficient between groups.
like good sense and isn't in any way as prescriptive as the rest of the
Mail's tone (managing of course to tie in some aspect of British
identity being eroded as it always does), but the comments from Mail
readers start to pour scorn on such descriptive views, arguing (among
other things) that the once proud language of Shakespeare is now
degenerating into a series of txt-grunts (a kind of Crumbling Castle
model for the text generation) and that young people are doing it
because they "are even allowed to use text speech in exams now",
conveniently (or stupidly) misunderstanding the difference between
studying and using. D'oh!
there is an interesting argument to be had here over the potentially
limiting effects of technology on our lexicon - both individual and
shared - because as this new app
demonstrates, predictive texting has evolved to offer us predictive messaging.
|Swift Key screen |
of just predicting the word we are typing, this app starts to predict
the next set of words, offering us phrases or even whole clauses, based
on what we have typed before. There's an example here
it's even cleverer than it first appears because it can use your
existing style from Facebook, email and your previous messages, building
a mini-corpus of your own style and then suggesting these back to you
when it is appropriate.
what's the problem? If your own style is being reinforced, basically
echoing your own lexical and grammatical choices, you might end up with
an ever-decreasing range of language choices. If, every time you type a
message, you're offered a set of choices influenced by your own database
of language, will you be railroaded into a restricted set of words?
will this lead us into a reduced set of lexical and grammatical
choices, fulfilling the Mail's to hell in a handcart predictions in the