Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, November 3, 2010:
While I sometimes become agitated at the flagrant commercial solicitation of our youth – as if the over-50 population has dropped into an ever-widening sinkhole – I also know that our planet’s future is in the sweaty palms and wild imaginations of those young’uns.
To be fair, I’m not anti-youth – I have a couple of young’uns myself. And every aging generation has faced the formidable wave of change they bring – it’s the inevitable regeneration of society. No industry is unaffected, including writing and publishing – like it or not, it’s (loosely) called progress.
What concerns me now is that we’re on the cusp of something more than just an obvious trendy updating of the dictionary. Like our insistence in the 1960s that “ain’t” is a word, and “groovy” has nothing to do with deep ruts, a new breed of words and phrases have materialized. “Cloud computing,” “webisode,” and “fan fiction,” are all products of new technology, created largely by twenty-somethings.
Throughout previous millennia of the written word, new words and phrases have been added to the bursting dictionaries, refinements have skewed other definitions, and some have dropped out of sight altogether.
What’s different in this generational turnover, however, is we wordsmiths are faced with a language revolution that threatens to alter the very core of English, as it’s been known since the emergence of Modern English around 1550.
Today, we are challenged by our youth to keep up with their “Newspeak” or drop like flies into the sinkhole. Though Orwell’s Newspeak in 1984 (1949) was politically motivated, its shortened, simple, and truncated vocabulary principles, as were his philosophies, were way ahead of its time. In theory, Texting is today’s Newspeak.
For example, in the texting world, “?4U” = I have a question – I maintain we can accomplish the same meaning and still remain literate, with “??please” – not only does it still convey we want to ask the receiver a question, but it’s polite!
However, I have a confession to make – yes, I too, have left out vowels and abbreviated words while texting. Only in the interest of saving time, though, I swear! I have no desire to write that way elsewhere.
Is that true of the young’uns? 21st century Newspeak is beginning to seep into everyday writing. I’ve seen it in email messages (what’s the excuse, there?), and in blogs, and while most have been used “in passing,” will we begin to see more and more?
Common usage is what changes dictionaries. In twenty years will we be writing in a greatly modified version of today’s English? Or will we assign one language to the left side of our brain and the other to the right, and hope they can co-exist peacefully? Although often change is good and needed, it isn’t always in our best interest.
In response to my blog, “Monday, November 1 – National Authors’ Day,” Infinity author John Wolf recently declared November “authors’ month,” so go out today, tomorrow, next week – and not only hug an author, but commend them for preserving our language! If you must text, be a rebel, and abbreviate your sentences, but please, use whole words!
Think about it. LEMENO .02 HAG1 (Let me know your two cents worth. Have a good one!)
Ciao for now … LinDee