Is English language deteriorating or developing?

The study of new forms and styles of language that have arisen due to usage of internet and new media is called as ‘Internet Linguistics’. It was promoted by David Crystal, a linguist who had predicted that English language would diverge according to local parlance and reunite owing to its necessity of being mutually intelligible. Finally, the need would arise, to have a standard English language spoken and comprehended uniformly across the globe, also known as ‘International English’.

The current social networking websites, web-chatting, texting, tweeting have led to an upheaval in the linguistic world, thus, giving rise to a new lexicon of internet slang which commonly uses words such as ‘LOL’ (laugh out loud), ‘TTYL’ (talk to you later), ‘GR8’ (Great) and so on. Although, we cannot deny the fact that internet language is more colloquial and convenient to use and has simplified communication to a great extent, we have to accept that it has started to impact our language and the very roots of grammar. We all feel tempted to substitute words with single letters such as a ‘u’ instead of a ‘You’ or succumb to verbal laziness and impatience by using the words such as ‘gonna’ instead of ‘going to’. For our current generation, the lucid nature of language is not limited to using simple grammatically correct words or phrases but replacing them with ‘hip and happening’ syllables which would be familiar only to internet users. If I were to move ahead in time and interact with our next generation using grammatically sound language, I fear I would be misunderstood as being blunt or someone who keeps a stiff upper lip.

Can we let our language deteriorate to such an extent that nobody in the next generation would comprehend simple English unless each word is abbreviated or modified into something? If the slang is so ingrained in the young minds, we fear that they would never be able to appreciate the beauty of our normal English language which originated developed through the amalgamation of several ancient languages.

One way to nurture good language skills in children is by introducing them to classic novels such as ‘How To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, ‘Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R Tolkien, ‘Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain etc. Building vocabulary should not be the only goal behind reading these novels, but one should appreciate the variety of sentence constructions, figures of speech, myriad expressions and exclamations which are not only narrative but also help string coherent thoughts in our minds which results into coherent speech or writing. There should be a conscious effort on part of the parents and the teachers to make students aware of the roots of their language and point out to the inadequacy of internet slang in conveying the same message. This practice of using grammatically correct terminology whenever possible and restraining oneself from using slang can only help preserve language. Since, the current technology is as much a boon as a curse, we should make use of dictionaries and word puzzles available on the internet to hone our language skills.

Anand Laghate

MBA-ITBM (2013-2015)

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