I’ve been thinking a lot about how language changes and can only conclude that it can’t be boiled down to a paragraph – though a lengthy essay might make a start on the subject.
- I’ve found a good quote about it
- I’ve found a very good book about it (amongst 37,800,000 hits on ‘books on the subject’)
- I’ve listened to David Crystal talking about it (the ultimate chap for this subject)
- and I’ve been playing a daft word game that depended on incorrect spacing in words to change the meaning
The short answer is, there is no short answer. What I do believe is that language for websites has to be carefully considered for ambiguity in the meaning of words as well as the obvious need for brevity. I wondered whether someone, somewhere might think ‘free’ and ‘priceless’ mean the same thing in the WordPress statement: “…WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”
Comment by Jo Allen, attendee of WePublish on Jan 22nd
Quotes and references:
- Roman Jakobson, a Russian Linguist said in 1949: “Continual language change is natural and inevitable, and is due to a combination of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic factors.”
- In 2011, to mark the publication of the Guardian’s own Style Guide, Production Editor David Marsh will meet Simon Heffer, Associate Editor of The Daily Telegraph Style Guide to discuss “why language matters and how they ensure – or try to – that their newspapers maintain high standards of grammar, spelling and style”.
- 181,000,000 hits on Google for ‘changes in language’.
- 37,800,000 hits for books on the subject. Try ‘Language Change: Progress or Decay?’ by Jean Aitchison, Emeritus Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication, Oxford University.
- David Crystal has said that he ‘enjoys’ teenage langue as it demonstrates that language is not fixed but evolving. (But the problem with ‘clique-speak’ is that it excludes everyone who is not part of that clique. The web is open to everyone so websites should be comprehensible to everyone.)