I’ve never lost my curiosity over words. Speech has obviously evolved over the ages (in every language), and in fact, we would be hard-pressed to recognize what people were saying if we went back to 17th Century England.
For instance, I remember having to memorize a poem by Robert Burns: “
“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.”
Which translates today to : “Oh the gift that God could give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”
I’ve always liked that quote (and don’t know if it’s about reality or the gift of denial). But the bigger issue is about language and how it has changed.
So, when I’m texting to my kids and I realize that I’m shortening words and using shorthand like UR and K instead of “you are” and “okay.” Does it make grammar and punctuation moot? For instance, I criticize people for mixing up “you’re” and “your.” Does it matter in today’s world.
I’ll always thing that words matter, that it’s our primary way to communicate, that speech separates us from animals, and that speech can be art. Speech can also be a weapon, a peace-making tool, a gift and a curse.
Every week, I learn something new about language. Just this week, I learned that when I say: “You buried the lead,” I really mean “You buried the lede.” Who knew?