Time May Change Me, But I Can't Change Time

1261 words - 6 pages

Language changes; it grows and adapts similarly to the way that humans grow and adapt to the dynamic world surrounding us. From Old English with epic poems like Beowulf to Middle English in The Canterbury Tales, it progressed into Shakespearean, or Early Modern English, which eventually manifested into the incredibly complex language we refer to as Modern English. The journey English embarked on many centuries ago by expanding its territory to America has emerged through "borrowing" pieces of assorted languages, including, but not limited to Latin, French, German, Native American, Celtic, and Greek. Cultural integration has caused and will continue to cause the English language to gradually expand its linguistic repertoire, so it is interesting that an astoundingly intelligent professor and writer such as David Foster Wallace, in his essay Authority and American Usage, can make a claim to prescriptivism: a belief that writing while using traditional grammar and proper usage of English is unanimously superior to the way that modern Americans use it. While this approach does make him look educated, isn't language an expression of human personality? Personalities—like language, changes over time; for starters, you are not the same elementary school child you once were. Judith Butler, the author of Besides Oneself, reveals her liberal stance on the "prescriptivism versus descriptivism" language debate that is revealed in her unique, long-winded sentence. The English language lacks an official language academy, yet there is a massive number of English speakers worldwide. Without this central authority, the realm of the English language is basically a free-for-all (i.e. inconsistent dictionaries), so it's impractical to say that there should be a "proper" form of English. Therefore, I find myself disagreeing with Wallace and buying into the novelty of Butler's descriptivism; language does not need to maintain traditional values, instead it needs to embrace constant change.
Language isn't the only thing changing at a rapid rate; for instance, think about the evolution of technology and how it affects the way we communicate. Wallace claims that without a prescriptivist mindset, the English language is essentially destructive, whereas Butler proposes the million dollar question— "What makes a life grievable?" (Butler 240). In reply, what makes language grievable? The act of worrying ourselves about traditional language conventions is pointless, as technology is changing the world around us. With the introduction of the Internet, forums, blogging, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, it is becoming common to write like we speak, rather than using traditional writing conventions. This increase of digital communication is slowly eradicating the value of traditional grammar and word usage. Technology introduces fresh concepts into our lives. I can even include the word 'binge-watch' and 'retweet' in a game of Scrabble and it would not surprise me to see 'to...

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