Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our Evolving English Language

I unabashedly love our English language. Tutoring ESL (English as a Second Language) adults from many lands challenges me to learn grammar, idioms, slang, profanity and most of all our American culture.

While growing up in the West side of Detroit during WWII the radio was my media. The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Captain Marvel were among my favorite radio programs. The radio announcers helped shape my English speaking skills that I learned from my native born parents. To be sure I have a mid west accent. Some how I never knew I had that accent until a retired Alberta Canada wheat farmer said "You sound 'nasalish' " when I was on an Elderhostel trip in Newfoundland, Canada in 1995.

In September the year before, I started my new 'career' -- tutoring adult ESL students. These adults are from Asia, South America, Mexico, and Europe. It is not only fun but a joy as well.

These students have made me aware of our American English and just how much it has changed since the days when I could ' see' and hear "Hi-Yo Silver" as The Lone Ranger rode off into the sun set as I sat in front of the little radio on the table.

The English language is changing so rapidly one can hardly keep up with the changes. A handy tool for checking the definition and the history of words is Answers.com. I use their little program that allows you to place the cursor on a word then press and hold the Alt key and then click. A small window opens with the definition along with other goodies.

What is in store for our fascinating English language? That's the topic of Michael Erard's essay "How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand" in Wired Magazine. The related photo by Mauricio Alejo captures the theme of the article.

2 comments:

said...

Yes,Bob,English is one of the greatest language in the world.You've say that radio used to be your faver during the WW2,but now ,I always listen to VOA or BBC everymoring,I feel that I am in that old time.

joared said...

Yes, our English language is wonderously evolving. I enjoyed a brief stint years ago as an ESL teacher and found it quite rewarding.
Will be interesting to see what happens to word spelling which is already under duress as I've noted in a piece I'll post sometime in the future.