Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | February 7, 2013

LANGUAGE

by

Sara Mcdaris

Our language continues to change. I did not use the word evolve for I am not sure that the change means it is improving. It makes reading and conversation woefully unclear.

More and more an English word can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. One must read the sentence, ponder a moment about what the writer is trying to say; then read it again. The trend toward written language is to leave out words which might clarify what is meant. We end up misunderstanding what we read.. Another troubling area is the tenses of our verbs. We easily confuse the time element by not using the proper tense. The little word ‘had’ can be a big help. “He saw the open door, which he thought he had closed when he came in.”

I have noticed lately many uses of a singular subject followed by a plural verb: A group of boys are in the park. And just the opposite is common, using ‘there is.’ The French have made this a given in their language, and we have joyously picked up the habit. “The French ‘Il y a’ is the equivalent of our ‘there is’ and can be followed by any amount of numbers. “There is cream and sugar on the table.”

The general population has confused she and he with him and her. “We followed she and Bill” instead of Bill and her. “The party was given by he and Mary” instead of Mary and him. This usage is encouraged by many media announcers.

The use of punctuation is suffering, also. Some authors, (editors?) have abandoned the usage of quotation marks to establish who is speaking in a passage. Occasionally there will be an indentation followed by a dash. No helpful additional words like “he gasped as he lay dying.” Sometimes there is not even a dash to clue you in that someone is speaking. This is often the case with our English writers across the pond. Again, the reader must go back, and identify each line and figure out who is saying what. Maddening!

Commas are growing out of style. I admit that at one time too many commas might have hampered a flowing passage but now a phrase followed by another phrase plays havoc with the mind as is imminently clear as you hear this sentence without the use of commas.

And then there is texting. We are losing our vowels altogether. Another language is forming. The split will be just as clear as our split with English English, say the use of bonnet and hood. This rupture will be world wide, the texting users against the non-texting users.  K?

By the way, I seem to remember that the ancient Hebrew language was devoid of vowels.  I believe Yahweh was spelled without the vowels. Perhaps other words, too.

And that brings us full circle, a literary device I frequently use. Who knows, in time I may catch up with the new messaging system, and, wonder of wonders, may even know what it is I am writing, and reading.

© 2013 Sara McDaris

As read during Morning Blend, February 6, 2013, SunDial Writers’ Corner on WLRH, 89.3 FM, Huntsville, Alabama’s NPR Radio affiliate.

About the Author

Sara McDaris is an author, storyteller, member of the Huntsville Master Chorale, narrator for the Huntsville Symphony, harpist, and member of the Monday Lunch Writers’ Group.


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