Living Language Means Changing Language

"Nothing gold can stay," said the poet (It's Frost, so you don't have to look it up). We like to think, especially as we get to middle age, that certain things are "right" and must remain so.

I've talked about wording, grammar and syntax this week, and the tendency we all have to regard what we were taught as the right way to speak. Truth is, language changes all the time if it's being used. Rules change, words come and go, and usage/syntax/structure shifts. The reason your grandmother sounds like a granny has a lot to do with her speech patterns. I, who could be a granny even though I'm not, persist in using sixties phraseology. Can't seem to stop. It dates me, even if I have always managed to avoid words like "groovy" and phrases like "out of sight."

English is a great language because it's elastic. Of course that means we have more words than anyone else, more idioms that make ESL difficult. But it also means there's a way to phrase almost any nuance of feeling. An author can choose words that pigeonhole a character's age, background, and even economic status. Those words may not be proper English, but the tone achieved is worth it.

We must each speak as we were taught, reflecting our education or lack of it. But when we write: Oh, the choices we have!

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