At Random: Devolution of communication

Dictionary additions open a portcullis of awful

The new year comes with new possibilities, and, unfortunately, new lingo.

As our planet ages, the human population is supposed to age and evolve with it. As a whole, it seems fair to say that we are keeping with that trend. Our vehicles are more environmentally friendly albeit more expensive, progress is made in righting past wrongs and our telephones are now computers, satellite navigators and, in the odd occurrence, significant others.

These improvements, if you will, move at staggering rates ranging from glacial to hyper-speed. That’s all well and dandy, but there is one area where humankind appears to be moving backwards at an alarming rate: language.

The Oxford English Dictionary, our go-to source for spellings and definitions in journalism, has once again added some noteworthy and questionable words to their immense lineup.

My personal favourite, which came in late 2017, is worstest. Yes, worstest.

As it turns out, worse and worst couldn’t account for how dreadful something can be, and we are now free and theoretically encouraged to add worstest to our vernacular.

It may not be in the dictionary yet, but if worstest can make it through the screening process, it’s only a matter of time until irregardless is added to the mix. While we’re at it, let’s add irregardlessly too.

Irregardlessly is fun, funky and sure to bring the youths into the English literature game. But it doesn’t stop at new words.

equally importantly to the new words and stuff theres a new rule that kids no longer need capitalization or punctuation or any form of grammar at all really and scru speling nething u nd 2 say cn b said in 140 chars er les

I don’t know what came over me. I do apologize. Perhaps it was my inner youth reaching out for attention.

Admittedly, the above may be a slight exaggeration, but scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter certainly shows cause for concern. While it may not be a life-or-death scenario, proper punctuation and spelling in your post regarding what you had for breakfast three weeks ago in Maui is important. And if it isn’t important to you, then please do it for me.

Our glimpse into the future of language is unsettling; however, it’s important to note that what is considered standard English now would have been rather drab a century ago.

Take Edgar Allan Poe’s influential poem, The Raven, originally published in 1845, for example.

“Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow from my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore — for the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore. Nameless here, for evermore.”

It certainly is far more (the mostest) poetic than my example of ultra-modern social media-fuelled literature demonstrated above, but contrasted against every day speak it is equally outlandish.

Compare Poe’s command of the English language to that of the late-great Ernest Hemingway. Their respective voices are as different as their subject matter. What the works of Poe, Hemingway and authors of a variety of vintages from William Shakespeare to Stephen King demonstrate is the constant and gradual evolution of our language.

Whether we like it or not, the way we communicate is changing. ‘Tis the way the cookie doth crumble.

Irregardlessly, this isn’t the worstest thing to happen in the new year.

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