I’m fascinated by language and how it changes, how it morphs down through the generations. How did we get from ‘Good day to you Sir, you are keeping well I presume?’ to ‘Well!’. How do we latch onto certain phrases or sayings making them popular speech? I imagine the first guy to say “Groovy!” standing in a room full of awkward as the people around him looked confused. “What the hell is he talking about, ‘groovy’? Is this man a carpenter?!”
Even in my short lifetime language has changed massively. We have dumped g’s left, right and centre, we seem to have fallen out of love with vowels and have divorced punctuation entirely!
Mobile phones have brought with it a tidal wave of text speak (sorry, txt spk) that I just don’t get. Every time I interact with the ‘young people’ they seem to have abbreviated and acronymed their speech even MORE, almost to the point where they are now conversing in textual grunts. We depend more and more on auto-correct to spell for us, which means we are now leaning towards the US way of spelling. Color? Moisturize? Center? Catalog?? Sure, this is just madness!!
(I am so guilty of this myself. I have gone to my phone, opened a draft in messages and typed in a word to get the correct spelling… #embarrassed!)
And now with the likes of Snapchat and Instagram, images can do the talking for us; a picture truly can speak a thousand words. No explanation needed, just a few well placed hashtags for added emphasis and away you go. Your friend doesn’t even need to respond verbally, just acknowledge with a fat, laughing yellow face or a suitably horrified yellow face.
Is this language developing, or is it just a lazy way of communicating with each other?
Have we become that bone idle as a race that we can’t be bothered with the written word anymore? That we limit our interactions with each other to 140 characters or an emoji? ‘Liking’ something on Facebook because we don’t have the time – or can’t be arsed – to interact with each other on a deeper level. A quick ‘thinkin of u hon!’ comment eases the conscience and saves you having to pick up a phone to actually converse with someone for a minute!
The more we do this, the more we are allowing something else to do the talking for us.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy Instagram, I love a good GIF and can often be found chuckling at a meme on Facebook. But I also adore the written word. Nothing can convey emotion like a beautifully written piece of work, or can fire your imagination and conjure images like a really descriptive bit of writing.
Language, spoken or written, defines us as people. And while new ways of interacting and communicating are fun to explore, we are literally losing words. We are saying less and less to each other. The very technology that has been developed to keep us interacting with each other is now serving to isolate us from each other like never before.
There is a slight irony that the more we use technology, the closer we move to speaking in binary code ourselves.