Remember the high dive that terrified you as a kid? You were scared silly of jumping off of it, but one day came that you jumped off anyway. You return as an adult and realize that the “high dive” that once was a part of your nightmares was only six feet off the water and no big deal at all. I remember the daunting site of the Oxford English Dictionary sitting in the school library. It was kind of a hallowed place that we looked up words only if we wanted to re-write the paper we were working on. For me, the American dictionary worked just fine…which might explain a few of my literary short comings (LOL).
Well, the standard for “proper” words of the English language has been updated and there are a few additions that surprised me, additions that criticizing them makes me sound like my parents and my teachers. The additions that are most notable arrived from the digital age and are text lingo such as OMG and LOL. I can’t say that I was a stickler for perfection in my English classes, but I guess I am getting older.
Then again let’s think about it. I also studied Latin and it a given taht the Latin language was what is termed a “dead language,” not because all the Romans were dead, but because there were no new words created in the evolution of the language.
Here is the difference between a living language and a dead language:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
Translation (I guess):
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!
This is epic poem Beowulf from 4th Century ad England. I copied and pasted this from another web site, and I don’t speak Old English. No body does, anymore that’s why they call it Old English. I have no idea if this is a valid translation or not…but it is close.
I guess we should be thankful that our language and our culture are changing and (I guess) growing. One could also argue that are culture is now in decline, as our language is becoming over-simplified. It also is a challenge that I hold dear that I can communicate with people who hold the traditional English language dear to their hearts and at least be able to understand what people are intending to mean when they say something stupid like “O-M-G” (typed, yes- spoken, personally not a fan).
I guess the good news is that “WTF” didn’t make the Oxford English Dictionary…or did it?