English Degeneration

January 23, 2013
Many people’s grandparents view technology and change as bad and scary thing. Why is this? Maybe it’s because they don’t know how to use the new technologies, don’t feel they’re necessary, they see it as only adding to the laziness of the generation, or maybe they are just set in their old ways and don’t like change. Many people feel the same way about our English language today, that we use jargon and grammatically incorrect English because we’re lazy, illiterate, or too worried about the future.

Today, people use their language for the purpose of getting a message across clearly and effectively. When people who speak English communicate, just like with any other language, we want to ensure that our messages are understood. If this means using proper English that would be approved by English scholars then ok, but for most people this means using the everyday jargon and bad grammar that we are used to. This does not make our English wrong. It may be grammatically incorrect, but if our purpose was to get a message across and we do this in a language that will do this, then I feel that our purpose is achieved and that we have succeeded.

The English critics use to make the rules of English grammaticism was that of pieces or work written by famous play writers or great philosophers of our recent past. Who says that this is correct? What of the English they referred to from their recent past. Who determines that the grammatically correct English is that of 19th century Shakespeare and not that of earlier writers like Caedmon, Aelfric, and King Alfred or that of present day writers like C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, or J.K. Rowling? Who determines that the English of old is better than that of present day? We change rules with the changing of the times, but supposedly some think this shouldn’t apply to the English language. I don’t think the changes we are making major changes that would require criticism. Minor changes made to increase effectiveness with the changing of times should not be prohibited. Who writes a paper and accepts the first draft as the best result? Who manufactures a product and expects the consumer not to change their needs and someday have a need for something different? They don’t scrap the whole idea. They make changes to their product to help it better fit the consumer’s needs. I feel today people are changing English in small ways in order to make it fit their needs. For example, time schedules, age differences, or things like illiteracy. Also, who says that the common citizens of Shakespeare’s time didn’t use improper English? Just because Shakespeare used it in his writing doesn’t mean that everyone else did. He himself may not have used proper English all the time. I’m sure he had jargon he used with friends of his just like I do with friends of mine.
The English I use and hear others around me using around me on a daily basis are effective ways of communicating, grammatically correct or not. For example, when a teenager enters a group of other teens talking and says, “s’up?” it’s his way of addressing the group in a respectful way and making his presence known. He acknowledges that this is the right language for the right setting. If he were to be in a group of older adults and greet them with “s’up” they would see him as being rude illiterate, so instead he would walk up and wait to be acknowledged before saying hello in a mannerly form. Therefore, it is good to have an understanding of the English language because there are some out there purposely illiterate, but most do know how to use English properly if necessary.

It is not bad to use different forms of English are used in different situations. Everybody has different purposes, different time restrictions, and different levels of status that play into their English. This helps to make their communication more effective and better refined to meet their needs. Therefore, each person should use their language how they need to.

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