Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Language in the Future

Sometimes I become very aggravated by some of the ways that people are using language today. It seems the atmosphere is full of acronyms and short cuts that take away from the beauty and meaning of full round sounds.

I suppose it is part of the normal development of speech and communication. We’ve come a long way from inflected grunts. As the human race developed, the needs and ways of communicating evolved too. Vocabulary increased, often borrowing from other languages. Meanings of words and phrases changed as need directed. Sounds could be recorded, first in the symbols of runes and alphabets, more recently as sounds themselves.

An alphabet seemed the perfect way to preserve language except for a few flaws in the system. Not every community agreed to what sound was portrayed by what character, nor on how the sounds/letters should fit together to carry a meaning all knew instantly. In the flush of the printed word attempts were made in several languages to standardize words and their usage. Language, however, will not be contained by regulations.

Change is still happening, partly through the development of new technologies for disseminating and storing language and partly through the laziness of many of us who use them. Acronyms have become so common that they have become a means of identifying things unrelated to the word the acronym spells. Text messaging and electronic “chat” demands getting the most with the least and produces short cuts in the language that sound fine but look ugly.
So what? you may ask. But the beauty of language is one of the greatest achievements of humanity. To destroy that beauty, even to neglect it just for expediency, would seem to me to be a decline back towards barbarism. Without the fullness and diversity of all the sounds we have available language becomes stunted, withers.

Change, as we all know, cannot be stopped. But at the same time what we have built needs to be preserved. Poets in a society have the responsibility to ensure the continuation of the beauty. They are the ones who work with its intricacies and possibilities in ways no other can.

So one of the first concerns of the poet is the beauty of language, of proclaiming and propagating it. It disturbs me to find poets putting forth prosaic language just because it might appeal to more people. Poems should sing as well as communicate.

Just because so many people are doing it is no reason for a poet to dilute the power of the spoken or written word.

So wht r u w8tng 4?

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