The evolution of words

Typewriter | Evolution of words |

I love words. And language. But while I’m paid to be a grammar nazi when necessary, on my own time I’m perfectly happy to end a sentence with a preposition (gasp!), start a sentence with a conjunction (the horror!) and make up a word or phrase if it’s what will suit my needs at the time.

The truth is, the evolution of words and language excites me. (#wordnerd, I know!)

The fact that I had to Google an acronym our niece put in a text message both excited and disappointed me: things are changing but at the ripe old age of 29-this-Saturday, I’m apparently out of the loop with what the kids are saying these days!

When I was getting towards the end of my school years, there was widespread panic that millennials would only be able to speak about their skateboarding significant other as a ‘sk8r boi’ and would forget that the personal pronoun in the second person is not spelt with the single ‘u’. Fear not, fear mongers; it simply didn’t happen. Just like trends come and go with fashion, so they do with words and language. For some reason, denim jeans have stood the test of time but one-shoulder boob-tubes are only ever one-off wonders.

While we’re freaking out over the boob-tubes of whether kids will try and write their school assignments in Textese, we seem to be overlooking whether they’re grasping the simple stuff. It’s not about how to write an essay or an extended narrative necessarily; it’s how to write a solid sentence. How a paragraph differs from a sentence. Why some words get a capital letter and others don’t. That ‘youse’ is not a word many people class as acceptable. Regardless of whether a child is going to be a builder, a maths professor, an engineer or an artist, they will always need the basics of language.

If social media has shown us one thing, it’s that plenty of people are still yet to discover that there is more than one way to spell ‘your’. And ‘there’.

Not everyone needs the ability to play with language or get excited about new trends in phrasing, but being able to put together a cover letter for a job application, write a considered email to a landlord when you know you’re getting a raw deal or simply to post something on Facebook that doesn’t get attacked by the grammar police are all important skills (some more than others, I know).

I came across this great video by Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty. If you fancy wordnerdin’ it up, she digs in to some examples of language’s denim jeans through the ages.

Bet you didn’t know eggs weren’t always called ‘eggs’!

x Liz

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