What linguists have to say about Language Change.

hg-wellsHG Wells, bemoaning the average person’s linguistic incompetence – relative to the potential of language –“suburban white lower class (subhumans)”: “They live in our mother tongue as some half-civilised invaders might live in a splendidly equipped palace, they misuse this, they waste that, they leave whole corridors and wings unexplored, to fall into disuse and decay.” Mankind in the Making 1904

Vs

CK Ogden 1920s who proposes a simpler language to get over the problems posed by an over-complex language– “An auxiliary international language comprising 850 words arranged in a system in which everything may be said for all the purposes of everyday existence.” (1940s grant from ministry of education)

Today? Linguists don’t apply moral judgements to instances or manners of using the language – one use of language is not inherently better than another.

What of “disinterested”? Is this semantic simplification, originating in a confusion of “uninterested” and “disinterested” evidence of a deterioration of our language?

JM

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