Language Evolves: No Need to Panic

| 5/1/2009 4:19:01 PM

Changing language is no cause for concern for many linguists and lexicographers, Ben Yagoda writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Contrary to popular belief, expert wordies are interested in “charting and interpreting recent and historical changes in the way English is written and spoken, not interested in labeling those changes as ‘mistakes,’ and even less interested in decrying such so-called errors as evidence of a decline in American civilization.” Yagoda recalls a panel discussion on language whose audience was distraught by the use of “impact” as a verb and “their” as a singular pronoun, but the experts didn't seem too bothered.

The audience should probably get used to it, as such changes are likely to continue. With native English speakers diminishing, the language will change to better reflect the lives of those who use the language. Annalee Newitz argued for Utne Reader's November-December issue that this linguistic evolution should be embraced, not derided.

Source: The Chronicle Review of Higher Education, Utne

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