Off topic: Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music...
Thread poster: Andres Pacheco

Andres Pacheco  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 31, 2004

...and Why We Should, Like, Care

Review of this book on the evolution of English at The Economist:


Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Italian to English
Shakespeare - what's that? Jan 31, 2004

Fascinating Andrés, thank you for the link.
Without doubt, one subject that exercises the minds of those few remaining native English speakers brought up to understand and appreciate the beauty and expression of Shakespeare's English is the realisation that the language is no longer their own.
One result of English becoming the world’s principal international language is that non-native speakers now outnumber the native (Coury, Jane Godwin, (2001) “English as a Lingua Franca in the Brazilian Academic World” Linguistic Issues, and there are now more exchanges between non-native speakers of English than between non-native and native (Walker, Robin (2001) “Pronunciation for International Intelligibility”, Linguistic Issues,
A key feature of such conversations is seen in the use of stereotypical phrases, even by those with a high degree of competence, so as to make sure that they will be understood and to avoid embarrassing less competent participants (Meierkord, Cristiane (2000) “Interpreting successful lingua franca interaction”,
Linguistik Online 5
This is only one of the factors that has encouraged the "dumbing down" of the language, others being the drive for equality irrespective of background or education, the emphasis on personal expression and the increased influence of youth culture, as outlined in the article.
It is, of course, unrealistic and unimaginative to insist on language being frozen in time and it could be argued that some of the "New Englishes" are just as linguistically inventive as that of Shakespeare. It seems to me ironic though, that Shakespeare's English was written to appeal to everyone while so much of the new, instead of developing its potential as a Lingua Franca, is designed to distinguish or separate one group from another.
As Churchill said in comparing Britain and the USA: "two nations divided by a common language".


Alex Zelkind (X)
English to Russian
+ ...
Degradation? Don't think so Feb 1, 2004

Shakespeare was not really appreciated in his times. His works were considered to be written for plebs.
So, who knows, maybe in 500 years Shakespeare will be completely forgotten and 2Pac will be regarded as one of the classics of literature in English.

Political speach does not have to be highly elegant. It is supposed to be understood by masses. Masses can understand only simple language.

Russian President Putin does not speak very elegant Russian, he speaks very simple language which any peasant can understand. Many of his opponents speak in complicated phrases - simple folks do not understand them. Putin wins - opponents lose.

Politicians must speak simple language if they want to win popularity. People must speak simple language if they want to be understood. Language is about understanding before all.

Any idea can be expressed in simple words. Why complicate things by looking up in the dictionaries words which are not used at all?


Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:59
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
How about the language of the bible? Feb 1, 2004

Those two examples in the referred article brought to mind, that perhaps the modern language is going back to the very clear and simple wording of the bible.
Though I am no native speaker of English I believe today live more excellent writers of English than ever before. I love the language of Donna Tartt very much.


Valeria Verona  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:59
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Re: Feb 2, 2004

The history of a language is the history of "degraded" language becoming standard... There is nothing to panic abouticon_wink.gif
Thanks for the article, Andrés.


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