Saturday, 20 October 2007
Human language, in a most rudimentary plan, first emerged around one million years ago.
Of course, since then language has continued to advance and diverge into many distinct lingua. But it is the rate and interconnection of change in language today that captures our attention here.
Knowledge of the fact that at least three-thousand distinct tongues have disappeared over a period of three generations, among with the cultures they represent, is perhaps softened by the associate fact that at least one-third of the words in any modern full volume English dictionary are less than twenty years old!
The reasons? In part due to the amazing pace of scientific progress and technological advance (bosson, toxinal, cynoacrolate, C++, hyperlinks, simplexity: new science simply need new words). Lately, global media and brands have spurred novel vernacular (digerati, MTV, yarhoo, raves, nike, nokia.
WAP textlife brings new gist (CU@10...!). Mass-mood changes due to shifts in social dynamics and habit require new words (Nanostalgia, the yearning desire to see a repeat of Star Trek that was only shown the day before. Ampathy, the ultra-intense feeling of unity people experience at a rave. And Edutainment, meshing of fun with learning.
Languages have also evolved because of mass migration (Brazilian-Portuguese is quite different to native Portuguese...why?...Neo-tribes means new ideas; new ideas needs new language).
Fundamentally, and most of all, languages have come and gone as a consequence of the multidimensional interconnection of words. For example, as English language flows across cultural boundaries it can not help but eat-up the colloquial phrases of say Hindi to produce a new language now known as Hinglish, often seamlessly combining two different tongues in mid-sentence, even mid-word.
English, the king of predatory lingua, preys on inflections and phrases from literally every known and available language on the surface of this planet. One hundred years or so from now there will dozens of version of English, each seen as a separate language in their own right.
As English interconnects and gobbles up more and more words, it changes and diverges, but will remain a ravenous predator. The result? From street slang to the edge of the arts, media, science and technology the diversity of languages and never been so multidimensional.