Such is the discombobulation factor of Spring Break that I realized today that yesterday was not Friday. Last night when I Flogged My Blog via MummyTime, it was, in fact, Friday over in Australia, which is where she lives. But not here. And so I flogged yesterday's post, which is probably better anyway because today's is more likely to be much in line with the posts of Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday which were less than thrilling.
Yesterday at least I had a poem. Which made some people happy and others probably not so much, since some of my lovely followers get the happies when I post poetry and others groan and sink their heads into their hands, wondering why I persist in putting my nonprosical, uncapitalized, unpunctuated whatnots up on this blog.
Oooh, you should see all the red squiggly underlining Blogger is throwing at me. THOSE ARE NOT REAL WORDS! it says, huffing about and glaring at me through all its little 1s and 0s*. It doesn't understand the concept of linguistic creativity, of creating nonwords from words and suffixes and prefixes, of conveying meaning in ways not contained by Standard English.
I am a teacher of English, yes. I instruct my students in the use of Standard English for formal and academic use. However, in my own nonformal, nonacademic writing, I find myself quasi-following the footsteps of e. e. cummings and Lewis Carroll. I love doing this. I love the playfulness of language, how meaning can be conveyed through context and the bits and pieces of recognizable vocabulary, how it changes and evolves and lives. Language is a living entity, affected by and affecting its users, its speakers and writers and creators and creations. For we are as created by the language we speak as we are its creators: our identities are shaped by the words we use to describe ourselves and others, by the words we choose in our different contexts, by the dialects and codes that mark us as members of this and that community.
My students mock me gently (and sometimes not so gently) for the use of words/phrases like y'all and all y'all. I smile and tell them it marks my history as the classmate of Texans in the long ago of my youth, a trace that lives to this day. I listen to the verbs used by my friends and family: the dialect transformation of wash to warsh by my grandmother, a friend's modification of I saw to I seen. I listen to The Widget's experimentation with syntax: his declaration that I want all by myself walk!
Look at the transformation of language by the wave of Internet communication today. Our language is changing at a speed and in ways that we've never seen before in the history of the English language. Just look at my own blog: I use webspeak like cuz and lol and Intarwebz and blogosphere....the list goes on, and I only touch the tip of what is used these days. Consider the new verb google. Just like Kleenex and Xerox back in the day, Google is now something one does. I google information all the time. Don't you?
Not all of this is marvelous. I cannot express my disgust when papers are turned in using webspeak. I cross such words out with massive, heavy marks of the pen and let my students know just how unacceptable this is. How long will this last, however? Already words that were the unacceptable slang of the Long Ago are acceptable now: cool, gay, yeah, slick...Check out the complete Webster's Dictionary--the latest edition, because they add new words every year. Oh yes. That copy that's been sitting in the bookshelf for a few decades is outdated. Chances are you'll find words in there that are no longer in regular use, and it will be missing countless words that have crept into the center of our language since.
We (technically) still speak Modern English, just as Shakespeare did. Oh yes. Didn't you know that? From the point of view of the linguistic eras, the language we speak today is the same as his. Tell my students that, however, and I receive disbelieving stares. It is true that, with some concentration, one can read Shakespeare and discern the meaning. Most of the words are still in the dictionary. For that matter, Shakespeare coined many a word and phrase for the English language.
But no, we do not speak, from a realistic and practical point of view, the identical language as Shakespeare or Benjamin Franklin or Lewis Carroll or Edgar Allan Poe. We have a different body of words, and even old words have often shifted meaning. The skeletal structure remains, but the flesh has changed.
How dull if language remained static. Life is not static. Life changes and grows and morphs and diverges. How lovely that language does as well.
And what do you know: I had something to say today after all!
*This is a reference to binary code for the uninitiated into the confusing world of computer code. Keep in mind, I'm clueless about how this all works, but have been around so many computer geeks for so very many years that I can't help but pick up a few things here and there.
3 years ago