Tuesday, 3 August 2010

the same language, but not really

i think it's really interesting how languages evolve over time. i mean, something works and isn't really broken, you'd imagine it only needs some tweaks here and there. so, why fix it? why throw a monkeywrench in the works? my theory is, it's all about elitism. of sorts.

for example, when i write an academic paper, i can't really use the same stuff i use in, say, creative writing. sentence structure, choice of words, general vocabulary, maybe even syntax. but why? why do the powers that be deem that it has to be written a certain way, when all you really want is the contents; what purpose does it serve to write it in a (i can understand if it were a more systematic, or easier to read way) more convoluted manner? in fact, the more experienced one gets in writing, the more adherent one is to this undocumented canon of academic writing. which is exactly the point, i think - you can tell how much experience one has by perusing the style... which then biases your reading (though not necessarily in a bad way, i guess). it's a ritual of rites, an initiation into the world of, in this case, academia.

and the same holds true for every other field, i would imagine.

not content with having an intellectual caste, some people might go on to create racial, cultural, generational etc. language nuances. like how each generation has its own style of cool and awesome. like how your texan lecturer has a thick accent. like how hip hop and rap (generalising to african-american-influence) music is weird that way. like how you laugh at the immigrants at the kwik-e-mart for having a chinese or indian tinge to their tongues and telemarketing teeth. if anything, it makes these niches unique.

but, this is nothing new. most universities way back when (in the western world, again generalising here) decided,

'hey, wouldn't it be cool if we used latin to teach students? i mean, i know we speak english and all, but let's just be elitist jerks and make life that bit much harder. because we can. and it's sh*t a$$ hillarious to see kids learning a dead language. man, they say the darndest things'.

again, i'd think this is just another entry fee into an upper-crust world. one that, by making it inaccessible to the masses, defines itself to be prestigious, and, again, elite. which is pretty much the whole theme of london socialites and their stiff upper lips many years ago. again, this hasn't gone unnoticed, and, if you ever decide to read 'the picture of dorian gray', or any austenian novels, etc. it would be pretty hard to miss all of this. contextually. but not linguistically.

which then brings us to all the new-age nuances: guy says one thing, girl hears another (or vice versa). parents say one thing, kids say another. bitch*s say one thing... pimps don't really listen, they just use their strong pimp hands to silence the jibber-jabber. or something like that.

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