I can’t count the number of times I have predicted dire things for the youth of today because of their inability to use “good” English when they write.
I’ve always known we don’t use the same spellings today that were used many years ago and I’ve always been aware the English language has evolved and mutated over the years.
Ye Olde Englishe, I thought, was simply streamlined into New English but I discovered it’s not as simple as that when I went looking for information to use in writing this entry.
According to this Wikipedia article on old English, there are more divisions than just old and new English.
According to this article old English was actually Anglo-Saxon English and was spoken between 450 and 1100 AD. It is the language used in the creation of an ancient tale called Beowulf.
Wikipedia says, during the period from 1100 to 1500 AD, the language Chaucer spoke was in vogue and this is now known as Middle English.
From 1500 to 1650 AD Early Modern English was used. The Wikipedia article refers to this as Renaissance English and says it was the language Shakespeare used.
For a look at how that was originally written you will have to go to this page as Shakespeare‘s works remain under copyright.
According to the Wiki article our current language, Present Modern English, is known as Present-Day English and has been in use since 1650 AD.
It sounds like scholars have done a wonderful job of segregating past language use periods but have failed to distinguish between current trends.
From the advent of the internet and the software known as “Spell Checkers” English turned a subtle corner and evolved into “American English”. American spellings of words such as colour, programme and so on have become the norm worldwide.
We are, as far as I can see, now moving into another period which could be allocated the title “Techno-English” since it is derived from technological limitations.
When conversing online you need speed or your comment will arrive too late to become part of the conversation. This has led to the use of shorthand such as b instead of be and c instead of see etc.
The advent of text messaging via mobile phones has increased the usage of this form of English since it is tedious, time consuming, and an inefficient use of sms space to spell words out properly.
When it first began appearing it was almost incomprehensible but it is becoming more and more familiar as it gains users. Will it take over and become the norm or will our language divide into new and old once again?
At what point did the incomprehensible language used in Beowulf stop being used by the masses and evolve into the language used by Chaucer?
When did Chaucer’s English turn into Shakespeare’s version of the language and when did that get streamlined into the language we know today?
We have the dates selected by historians but I’m sure, and they admit, it was not as clear cut as that.
Perhaps, some day, historians will look back at today and say;
“Da invent o da net ws whn da E.L. b’gan 2 chng 2 wat it is 2day.”
If you can understand that sentence then that day may actually be more likely, and much closer, than I thought!
Come to think of it, the fact I could even WRITE that sentence makes it a bit more realistic as a prediction!
Oh dear. I feel quite faint. I thnk i need 2 ly down. Cya l8tr!