On language

There is a book written by George Orwell called “1984” (one i would highly recommend!) and it discusses (among other concepts) that the destruction of language by a society/focused entity as a whole can change the nature, nay the very thoughts of the people of that society. The rise of television being a factor in that change and continuous monitoring of its citizens are attributed to this, but the idea was that limiting the vocabulary of the people meant that the people did not have the capacity for anarchist thought at all, and became supplicants of the state.

I think some of this can apply to today’s world, eerily in fact.

The obvious and easy comparison is the shortening and destruction of the language. Abbreviations replacing words or phrases (take YOLO, LOL, ROFL, IKR *etc), and this not only applies to the written word but also spoken communications, having heard all these phrases uttered in everyday conversations. These phrases are almost jargon in their own right, completely acceptable to use in conversation.

Certainly changes like this occurred in the past, words such as terrific going from meaning “full of terror” to “that’s amazing” but never have these changes occurred on such an national / world wide. The rise of technology can certainly be a factor in language flux, from radio to television, but these mediums were essentially controlled by editors/marketing teams/professionals so this inherently had little consequence when compared to the arrival of the internet

Today, it takes one person posting a message, blog or social media meme to influence the language and the very culture of both their local area, but internationally. Does this apparent acceleration of language flux have any affect on the way the people think?

Now in no way am i semantically rigid, i understand that language itself evolves with the users, hell, one paragraph of my writing thrust infront of a grammar expert from any period of time would result in revulsion and lots of red ink and changes made. I do understand that my prose has to be understandable by the majority of audiences but is this mentality shared by the general populace?

In what way does the shortening and “destruction” of language influence how individuals think?

What does this mean for the future of the written word?

Will this mean that books of yesteryear will become irrelevant in the years to come?

Time will tell, What do you all think?

Edward Leeming 15/11/2017

*I am fully aware that etc is an shortened word, isn’t language great?

Note: Orwellian concepts of “continuous monitoring” influences behaviour is a topic for another blog, ref: panopticon and potential with digital monitoring


2 thoughts on “On language

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