There have been some pieces in the news lately about the crossover of IM and text message ‘speak’ into English. The cries of purists are amusing (kind of like the minority Canadian Quebequa wanting all signs in their province in French), especially since English is the original bastard language; just ask anyone who grew up with a rational language structure how hard it is to learn English!
We’ve architected English, verbed nouns, mashed words and done everything possible to give Americans more words than every not to know. When I recently had a co-worker talk about polyhierarchical taxonomies, she and I were the only ones in the room (with a group of college grads and educators) that could even parse the concept. Of course, anyone ever stopped for speeding knows what a radar gun is.
So now, IMHO, we LOL, sometimes even ROTF, in <3 with these book new words. To be added to lasers and scuba gear.
Hebrew, a language with a paltry 150,000 purely Semitic words compared to English, has been conjugating acronyms for millenia. Prime Minister Golda Meier used the phrase “Zabash’cha’ to create the word ‘it’s your problem’ from Ze Haba‘aya Shel’cha.’ When referring to a deceased person, Hebrew-speakers will say “Zahl” after their name, or “Zatsal,” meaning ‘blessed be their memory’ or ‘blessed be that holy person’s memory’ respectively.
English, with its incredible palette of words and phrases, changes slowly, word meanings generally outstripping new words. But as technology speeds memetic infection, each new communication facet will bring its own changes to work, culture and vocabulary.
Check out The-Ping for a short discussion on technology, linguistics and a universalist vocabulary.