Language is rotting.
“Hold on, stop right there,” you say. “Another English major ranting about the malicious massacre of language? *Yawn* How very pedestrian.”
No wait! Bear with me, dear reader. I promise to get to the point in short order.
As a life-long writer, I can’t deny that the perpetually accelerating degradation of language terrifies me. LOLspeak, Textese, online writing behaviours and general language laziness are systematically tearing down thousands of years of carefully evolved language structure.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a language evolutionist. It’s only fair that language should continue to evolve alongside society and technology. Until quite recently, however, literacy was a matter of pride – a sign of class and education. That meant the people defining its use and steering its evolution (at least in the written form), were schooled and practiced in the art of the wordsmith.
Now, with computers giving keyboard access to the masses and the internet offering a forum to share the subsequent creations with the world, the history of our language rests squarely (and somewhat precariously) in the hands of babes.
See, here’s the thing. No matter how many of us freakishly anal English majors are out there trying to tell people what to do, the nature of language is descriptive, not prescriptive. That means language is defined by what people actually say, rather than what they should say.
So, phrases like “I could care less,” due to common misuse, often replace the less cited but more correct version – in this case, “I couldn’t care less,” meaning you care so little it’s impossible to care any less.
“Alright, get to the point already! You promised me this wasn’t going to be another one of those English lessons telling me how everything I say is wrong!”
Yes, you’re right. Apologies.
How about an example then. Here’s an ad I found one Monday morning… spot anything off?
But here’s the beauty of the internet. Either someone complained (or maybe someone at the agency decided to read the ad for a change), because a scant few hours later, the same ad suddenly looked like:
I won’t even go into critiquing the concept here (trust me, I’m tempted), but for businesses and professionals, this laziness looks amateur and uneducated. A major international brand should look polished and intelligent. And flubs like this have FAIL written all over them.
“Okay, they fixed it fast. No big deal. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Of course! I’ve made PLENTY in my day (and I’m sure I’ll make many more before I retire to a rocking chair on the front porch of the senior’s home). But how about typos like this then?
Did you spot it? Not exactly a huge deal, but not a short-lived advertisement either. And Apple isn’t exactly a mom-and-pop shop. Still didn’t get it? I have faith in you.
Okay, tired of the English lesson by now I’m sure. Well, as they say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, make lemonade…” or something like that. And on that note, here’s one final funny to send you on your way.