Acronyms, Idioms and Slang: the Evolution of the English Language.

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Acronyms, Idioms and Slang: the Evolution of the English Language.

Although the English language is only 1500 years old, it has evolved at an incredible rate: so much so, that, at first glance, the average person in America today would find most Shakespearean literature confusing without the aid of an Old-English dictionary or Cliff's Notes. Yet Shakespear lived just 300 years ago! Some are seeing this is a sign of the decline of the English language, that people are becoming less and less literate. As R. Walker writes in his essay "Why English Needs Protecting," "the moral and economic decline of Great Britain in the post-war era has been mirrored by a decline in the English language and literature." I, however, disagree. It seems to me that the point of language is to communicate — to express some idea or exchange some form of information with someone else. In this sense, the English language seems, not necessarily to be improving or decaying, but optimizing — becoming more efficient.

It has been both said and observed that the technological evolution of a society tends to grow exponentially rather than linearly. The same can also be said of the English language. English is evolving on two levels: culturally and technologically. And both of these are unavoidable. Perhaps the more noticeable of the two today is the technological evolution of English. When the current scope of a given language is insufficient to describe a new concept, invention, or property, then there becomes a necessity to alter, combine, or create words to provide a needed definition. For example, the field of Astro-Physics has provided the English language with such new terms as pulsar, quasar, quark, black hole, photon, neutrino, positron etc. Similarly, our society has recently be inundated with a myriad of new terms from the field of Computer Science: motherboard, hard drive, Internet, megabyte, CD, IDE, SCSI, TCP/IP, WWW, HTTP, DMA, GUI and literally hundreds of others acronyms...
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