Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New in town

This is post number 900. Who knew a whole lotta nuthin' could take so many posts?

Anyway, Australia's own Macquarie Dictionary is releasing it's fifth edition this week and the latest edition has added another 5,000 words.

New words include: acid shock, baby bump, toxic debt, celeblog, bioenthanol, flashpacker.

The English language is constantly evolving, usually via the culture of the younger generation. Twitter, texting and other communications devices all conspire to abbreviate the language and find euphemisms for legitimate words. Fortunately, text words haven't made it... yet. Maybe another dictionary can be created for the likes of WTF, LOL, ROFL, L8, WYSIWYG.

I guess the most interesting evolution of the language is that it's predicated on social and cultural changes. The most talked about issue is climate change and words encompassing theories are more prevalent in modern language than ever before. Whether you agree with Climate Change or not, it has had an impact on language.

So too has the so-called Global Financial Crisis and America's arm wrestle over health issues. Toxic debt, death panels, golden parachutes, Ponzi, sub-prime, may not be new words, but they've come to international attention.

But the evolution has a down side: raise your hands if you understand Chaucer or Shakespeare, without study notes? Or appreciate Dickensian language as moralistically beguiling? How about Bronte or Austen? Who of the younger generation appreciate the subtleness of the prose? These authors represented the culture and language of the time. Occasionally difficult to comprehend, but magic once deciphered.

What will future generations think of our language. What will the 22nd century teenager think of his/her 21st century counterparts? Will English be recognisable? It makes an interesting premise for book, don't you think?

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