Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is Language Devolving yoooooo???!!!!

“Is language devolving?” is an extremely vague, yet pressing question that we must ask ourselves in this modern day of television, iPhones, and continuous entertainment whether in the political or social sphere. Simply, yes, language is devolving, at an extremely fast rate due to our continuous strive for efficiency, either socially or through persuasion by politicians. There are many examples of this in many parts of literature such as George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”. In this article, he explains how it’s became so much easier to simply be vague and not concrete when using language to persuade. Much of this is used in politics where it is understood that it is easier to use words of high diction and value to persuade and, quite frankly, confuse than to be simple and speak in laymen's terms; today a much more difficult process. An example of this lack of concreteness is seen in Orwell’s article, where he analyzes a very “fluffed up” political quote and then further explains: “...no one capable of using phrases like ‘objective considerations of contemporary phenomena --- would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness” (Orwell 8). Imagining a spectrum of language and it’s uses socially, politically, economically, etc. is a helpful visual to explain the various types of language and is fall. There are many different ways that each context language is used in is moving towards efficiency, a key factor in the devolving of our language.
Moving away from Orwell’s article, another way language is devolving is in a social sense. In the modern social world, just like in the political world, everything is expected to be done as fast as possible. For example, in schools we are expected to write in shorthand to take down notes in the most productive and speedy way possible, affecting the way we talk, whether we accept it or not. Another way is through technology. Texting is a massive factor is the degradation of our language, with terms such as “LOL!!!!!!!” and “OMG BROOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” becoming prevalent in even conversations today. Although mostly teens use this type of language in face-to-face conversation, these habits will carry on to adulthood and be passed down throughout generations; a vicious cycle of the continuous downfall of our once formal yet understandable language. Television and news is expected to be as simple and straight-forward as possible, written as short and sweet as physically possible so the modern day watcher/reader can move on to their next article with ease. Overall, language is devolving and rapidly and is most prevalent in politics and our daily social lives. But, a few questions remain. Can we control this destructive pattern? Of course. Will we? Most likely not.

- Jake Nusynowitz N U S Y N O W I T Z!!!!


  1. Jake, I completely agree with your argument. You appeal to the idea of the devolution of language from two distinct sides, from that of the political, professional realm and the everyday, colloquial language that is exchanged between teenagers. I believe that the trade-off of elevated diction and sophisticated language for the faster, abbreviated words that we now commonly use instinctively will completely take over in the years to come and dominate modern language.

  2. "...these habits will carry on to adulthood"--such a good point! I think you are right, and it's a really good (and slightly scary) point.

    The other day on the radio I heard someone say "analyzation." Not the first time I've heard this "word." the thing is, there's already a noun form of the verb analyze--the much shorter word analysis.
    There is a habit today of lazy speech--and writing. I think you are so right that these habits are being formed by the youth of today. And there's no real reason to think that adulthood will radically change the way these young whippersnappers communicate in the future.

    (Don't forget to turn off your captcha!)

  3. Jake, very interesting and thought provoking post. However, you do make a few contradictions in your opening paragraph regarding the reasons for the devolution of language. In your first paragraph you say that, “language is devolving …due to our continuous strive for efficiency”. If language is changing because we are trying to be more efficient with its uses, that would mean that language is evolving, and not devolving, because we are aware of how we shape our language and are making conscious efforts to shape it for our purposes. Furthermore, if you are referencing the fact that society is trying to be more efficient in general, then that same sentiment should apply to our outlook on language, which would still entail that language is evolving because progress is being made with our purposes for efficiency in mind. Also, you use Orwell’s essay to prove that, through politics and societal trends, humans are making language more confusing and less concise, which creates a contradiction with your argument that we “strive for efficiency” because language cannot be intentionally made less clear and less concise if we are all striving for efficiency. If you eliminate the argument about efficiency, then this post would be clearer and your argument would be easier to follow.