Language…….. it’s a living thing

It never fails to amaze me how transient our language is. Every new generation delights in reinventing it, changing ways of saying things, radically altering the meaning of words and even creating entirely new words.

It's long been accepted that the fact that Americans speak our language is purely coincidental. Perhaps it's because for many English is not their first language. But it doesn't mean that we have to adopt all of their versions. Elevator? Logical. Bathroom for toilet? Acceptable euphemism. But movies are rapidly replacing films and 'I'm good' for 'I'm well' is just plain bad grammar. I make no comment either on their use of the word fanny to describe an entirely different but not unrelated part of the human anatomy.


Australians seem increasingly to be starting every sentence with the word 'look', whilst we Brits have adopted the prefix 'So' before answering questions posed to us. Another anomaly that grates is the use of the word 'that' in connection with human activity. 'Anyone that enjoys a drink' should surely be 'anyone who enjoys a drink', since 'that' is for inanimate objects, as in 'buildings that collapsed in the flood'.

One more example of language mutation comes to mind. The undeniably likeable (itself a contemporary interpretation of a name that's been around since William the Conqueror) has introduced the habit of giving existing words entirely new meanings. This already exists, as in 'wicked', meaning not wicked but excellent, but Will is also giving words like fresh a new, cool image. But then he really is dope. This is an example of a meme, another relatively new term described by Wikipedia as 'an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.'

Whilst I am all for the increasing globalisation of the English language, I also think it's important to protect the historical and cultural identity of a nation by preserving the essential elements of its language. So this weekend I'll be going to the toilet before taking the lift up to the cinema to watch a really fresh film. How I'll be describing next month's activities is anybody's guess.