Evolving Language?

I recently read that our language is evolving. That can be true even if I don’t believe it.

Don and I were watching an old movie a few nights ago—the 1941 production of OUR WIFE. Early in the movie the character played by Ruth Hussey calls the character played by Melvin Douglas an inebriate. In a remake of that play/movie today she would accuse him of being a drunk. Drunk is easier to say and to spell as well as being much shorter to type into a text message. (And when did “text” become a verb?)

Is this loss of our multi-syllabic vocabulary the result of writers who “dumb down” their scripts, of entertainers (speakers/writers) who lack the ability to deliver perspicuity, or of an audience who chooses the easiest in a choice of diversions? Or can we simply blame the advent of technology? T.S. Eliot wrote, “Every vital development in language is a development of feeling as well.” Can we infer then that a decrease in language is a decrease in feeling?

No one in my family or my circle of friends would (or even could) use the words inebriate or perspicuity in a sentence but I like to think we would understand and appreciate those words should someone else choose to do so.

I believe our language is devolving. That can be true even if you don’t believe it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *