Stigma of Written Words

Stigma of Written Words
Image provided by Blue Train Books
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I can not address just any language about this matter of reproach. I am fluent in only one, that being English. Moreover, although I am familiar the British form, I’m considerably more comfortable with the American style and structure. Even though I have this inadequacy, I want to throw my view of this subject of the decomposition of words out into cyber space for exploration and, possibly, discussion.

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When I found myself reaching for my Kindle on a daily basis just months ago, I must admit to being a little unsettled. I had been taking pride in hampering the cast-off of the tried and true tools of the written language brought on by technology. Nonetheless, here I am reading great works by the masters on an electric device. At any rate, I’ve  identified what I hold to be a problem with the written expression of today’s world, that may or may not have been produced by the electronic components and/or the lethargic appearance of the society of our time.

Although the words used in the eighteenth and nineteenth are in today’s dictionaries of the English language, many of those terms are so seldom seen in anything written or heard in speech nowadays. Indeed, unless you read an assortment of subjects, you may never come across these words. In the movie, You’ve Got Mail (released 1998), the character, Kathleen Kelly suggests that Joe Fox read Pride and Prejudice. She so loves the story and the language of the time (early nineteenth century) that she reads it at least once per year. Words such as nonsensical, thither, continence, and decorum, just to name a few, are found scattered  throughout this masterpiece; and the means of these words are precise enough that I wonder why they have faded into the woodwork of countless libraries and bookstores.

My vocabulary is shameful. Until approximately three years ago, an atrocious number of the words I used were jargon, homonyms, and clichés. Along with this plight, some of those words were fashionable for such a short length of time that they didn’t even last through one generation. Yet, there I was, penning or typing frantically, thinking how enjoyable my blog posts would be. How preposterous I was. I am sure many of the people who subscribed to my blog were merely scanning my entries, and were devotees solely because they were kindhearted. Since that time, my collection of words has grown some, although the list is still meager. I question that other people’s vocabularies are growing, or if they are diminishing.

Has our so-called “advanced” society evolved to the point where we assume the art and need of expressive language is not as valuable as it once was? When I am out doing shopping or out for a meal, I will see a variety of people texting with their cell phones. I have used the texting feature on my own phone, but find myself inapt at this action, wanting to put correctly spelled words in and using complete sentences, which to the seasoned pro of texting will be labeled as ridiculous. Because this task is designed for the fast pace, we may lose our capability to endeavor in such projects as writing a decent letter or maybe even signing a greeting card properly. Our competence with the words of the spoken, as well as the written language could cease to exist.

In the past, it has been language, both written and spoken, that have taught us about everything in our world to prepare us, as much as possible, for what will come in the future. With such a small vocabulary as what is needed for tasks such as texting, will the learning process take a plunge?

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I can not assume to know the answers to the questions I put before you. I do think they are points deserving of consideration though.

Reading is the work of the alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally a sort of ecstasy. This gives the experience of reading a sublimity and power unequalled by any other form of communication. – E. B. White

 

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11 Replies to “Stigma of Written Words”

  1. You do raise some interesting questions. I think about the entire sub-culture language of the 60s and wonder if “learning” it even mattered? I watch some shows from that era and the ones that incorporated that language seem weird. The ones that paid attention to “traditional” language, remain interesting today. To me, that says something,

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    1. As I stated, my vocabulary is awful, even after gathering more words through my writing endeavors. To think that I was one of those who was saying, “Far out.” so often back in the hippy era is a little irksome to me. With all the words to express joy in something, I should have been able to find something better.

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  2. Very interesting article! You made me think about a book I read of punctuation “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” from Lynne Truss where she also discusses how punctuation will tend to disappear with texting and technology. But she also gives examples of how punctuation has been developing through all ages to accommodate the needs of people and it has persisted.

    I believe the same happens with words and vocabulary, they will accommodate through the times, but good writing will always have a good use of words and accuracy at using them. Any writing with indefinite repetition of simple words, innacurate words, and without any rhythm in its prose is not good writing, and people who love reading can tell this. They may not always know it’s because of these reasons, but they will feel it when reading. And as long as there are writers and readers, then I think education in this matter will continue to survive.

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    1. I do hope your surmise is true, although I can not help having my doubts. I do not know what your level of understanding of the English language is really because I do not know if you use a translator on your computer for some things. If, by chance, the level of your knowledge is high, which I have a sneaky feeling it is, I suggest you read two books and compare them for their value of the English language. Both are considered classics: Pride and Prejudice and Catcher in the Rye, and both stories I’ve enjoyed immensely. My guess is you’ll find when going from the former to the latter, the quality of the language slackens. True, the time periods are different, but I do not believe that makes a valid argument to support the lack of care put into the words used in Catcher in the Rye. You may think differently though.

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      1. Thanks, I’m definitely adding those to my list of recommended books 🙂

        P.S. I only use a translator when I come across unusual/strange words or slang I’m not familiar with 😉

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  3. I like reading Shakespeare. See how far we’ve come? Dost thou think evolution is natural? Okay, maybe not funny, but I would like to expand my vocabulary because my oldest son has a huge storage of words he uses and I have to put them into context just to understand him. Either that or there are a lot of whats?

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      1. I can’t tell you how many times my kids will say something and I have to ask for clarification. Also, some of the slang I used in my younger days has a completely different meaning these days.

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        1. In truth, I think maybe the language of the16th century is going a little too far back. But I do think the language of the 19th century had more precise words being used to express what was on a person’s mind. Instead of using the word “cool” for anything you like, you’d be using a term like lovely, beautiful, marvelous, etc. depending on what you would be referring to.

          Yes, I know I’m showing my age. 😛

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