The evolution of English

March 14, 2012

Recently, I started taking an editing certification course. It truly is amazing how in depth the English language is–amazing and scary. Just when you think you know everything there is to know, you learn something new. I must admit, I’ve had a deep rooted interest in language since I was in kindergarten. While the rest of the class was struggling to learn the alphabet, I was sent upstairs to the first-grade classroom to practice my reading skills. In high school, I enrolled in advanced placement (AP) English, and in college, I registered for higher-level courses. However, even after all these years of experience in writing and editing, I, by no means, consider myself an expert. As I mentioned, there’s always so much to learn and absorb.

But one thing I have noticed over the past decade, particularly, is the drastic evolution of the English language. From slang to usage, it seems as though each generation is more and more different from the last–and not necessarily in a positive way. Whereas the much older generations can whip out a well-written, grammatically correct  letter in no time (that, too, in cursive!), each new generation thereafter seems to progressively be getting worse in their ability to write (or, with today’s technology, type) well. At least in my experience, I feel that the focus on proofreading and grammar is more lax today than it has ever been. And that brings a question to the forefront of my mind: Is this a result of our education system? Or perhaps technology? Thanks to the world of IMs and texts, people, particularly of the younger generation, have become so accustomed to writing slang and misspelled words, that they don’t even know when they’re writing incorrectly. Also, with the aid of Microsoft Word’s Spell/Grammar check, more and more individuals seem to be forgetting the importance of memorizing the spelling of words and practicing proper grammar. Does this lax attitude, which seems to be fairly prevalent among the younger generation, mean that the role of an editor will eventually be non-existent?  I don’t know. And, though I know it’s cliche to say, I guess only time will tell. Until next week, happy writing and editing!

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