Did you know there are now more people in China who speak English than the entire population of the United States? Perhaps you found that out when you watched the YouTube video; “Did You Know 2.0” but even if you didn’t, you surely understand the trends going on, the same thing is happening in India, and currently 24% of the world’s population speaks English. Nevertheless, one could ask what type of English are they speaking? It seems they are speaking a very simple English, and as per the definition that would be 850 words or so.
Because the new folks coming into the English language are not learning the full vocabulary, just enough to get by, and because they are participating online in social networks, commenting on blogs, and reading all they can – more and more newspapers who want to reach that international audience are also dummying down the vocabulary to a fifth grade reading level, because they want those international folks to read their online news, and to look at the ads. They need the hits, views, and enough people to click on those ads to afford to continue their online news venues.
Now then, I asked the question which is the title of this article; “do languages evolve faster due to a global interconnectedness?” Yes, they do evolve faster. But that doesn’t mean they evolve better, or in a way which promotes better communication, better understanding, and more thought flow with fewer words. In fact, with all the abbreviations in text messaging, on twitter, and on many of the social networks we seem to be dummying down our language to meet the average level of reading of those who speak English.
One could say then, that our language is evolving to have more abbreviations, and some newer words, but it is also devolving, rather than evolving into a better language for communication. That my friends is a significant problem, and as we reach critical mass in crossing the global digital divide, we may find that the last era of fine literature is now past us, and that the devolving of our language may also be dummying down our thought process.
There is an interesting individual named Lawrence Bains, who is the chair of Instructural Leadership and Academic Curriculum at the University of Oklahoma who wrote an interesting couple of books;
“Going Bohemian,” published by the International Reading Association, 2010.
“The Teachers We Need,” published by Rowman and Littlefield, 2010.
Recently he stated in an article in The Futurist; “as the corpus of language ranks, the human capacity for complex thinking may shrink with it.”
Now then, notice that he wrote the word “may” and he is right, because the jury is still out. By adding more people to the global conversation, we are also increasing perspective and points of view which will increase thinking, but maybe that will only be for a brief period of time, but over the long haul, complex thinking may become a thing of the past. That’s a scary notion isn’t it? Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.