Last days of sophisticated English?

Written for Niagara News (

Chelsea Morin is confused after receiving a text about selfies.  PHOTO BY MAZIE BISHOP“One second, let me take a selfie first! YOLO right?” was the tail end of the conversation I walked into while going to check my makeup in the washroom of a local bar. The girl said those words as she nearly hyper-extended her arm to angle her phone toward her face.
As she pursed her lips, her friend responded, “Right! We should totally take a friendie!” The blissful giggles of agreement echoed through the fairly empty ladies’ room as they walked back out into the loud music of the bar.
I found myself staring into space, trying to figure out which was worse: the fact that humans could communicate in such a way or that I understood every single word. What happened to the Shakespearean sonnets, or the pastoral poets?
Where is the proof of four mandatory high school level English courses? Better yet, who came up with these abbreviations?
I had so many questions and so few answers. Humbled, I wandered back out to the bar.
Days passed and the modern lingo still bothered me, so like any other confused student, I turned to the Internet. To my surprise, every word I was looking for was in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Then, I realized the dictionary editors had added various modern, technology-inspired words.
Words like “derp” and “emoji” or “hackerspace” and “srsly” could now be found with proper definitions attached.
My first instinct, as a lover of literature and language, was to cringe but what if this change in diction was actually progression in language?
Conor Mooney, a welder at Ramm Design Labs, of St. Catharines, said he thinks the additions were inevitable.
“If you can convey the same meaning with less words then why wouldn’t you? Seeing as how that’s the path language has been taking for a very long time, I’d say it’s progressing,” said Mooney.
Lydia Bloomfield, a writer from the Niagara region, explained why she felt so strongly that these words were not a sign of digression.
“There are always going to be short forms of words or abbreviations of words derived from social media and what not, so why not put them in the dictionary.
“It is definitely not a sign of digression at all, it just means that people will be able to understand what all these words mean on a universal level.”
Although there was a lot of support for the additions, there was also confusion and strong counterpoints.
Terrence Hill, a General Arts and Science student here, strongly disagreed with the additions.
Hill said, “I understand that language is always changing, but there is a difference between words that might be a temporary fad and words that are always going to be there. A lot of these words are also redundancies, for example ‘swag,’ come on! Swagger is already in the dictionary.”
Today, it’s expected people will find ways to simplify almost everything, so it was only a matter of time before it would start to affect the way we communicate.
The important thing to remember is that these changes are not merely a digression or a progression, but an evolution.
At that, it is an evolution comparable to the difference in our language 10 years ago, to the language and verbal mechanics of the 18th century literature.


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