The English language should be expanded to accommodate new forms of language use, not compressed
Debate Rounds (4)
When I say that written language ought to grow, I mean in terms of creating new words and punctuation, and opposing any deterioration of language.
I also note that this discussion is purely about the English language. Not because it is the only one I think is important, but because it is the only one I speak fluently enough to argue about and I believe that as languages are so different, it would be inaccurate to lump them all together.
My opponent may choose to argue that written language should be preserved as it is, that the reduction of written language in the form of 'txt speak' is a positive thing, or any other stance that they see which opposes my own. Or any combination of the above.
As this is my first time participating in a proper debate on this site, I apologise in advance for any breach of conduct or other failure to use the system correctly due to my limited knowledge of its inner workings. I also ask that if such an event should occur, I be notified so that I may avoid making the same mistake in the future.
The first round is intended for acceptance only, and I would appreciate it if my opponent would not argue their case any more in this round than I have argued mine simply in explaining it to the best of my ability.
When crawling throughout DDO, I naturally checked the "Challenges" open. I saw this, and it looked awesome. So I accept.
I take the position that we should let language evolve into a more consise, shorter version of English.
i wldnt advoct a sstm n wch teh wrds r al shrt nd hrd 2 dsfr.
I wuld advocat a sistem in wich ^e words 'r #orter & lss combrsome to rite.
The English languages draws its origins from before the invention of the printing press, with the printing press being invented in 1448(1) while the English language dates back to the 5th century(2). As such, in its original state it was far more malleable, moulding to the way it was required to be used. Between the 12th and 16th centuries, English was a language for the working class, with the upper classes speaking French or Latin. As such, English was used primarily for communicating everyday concepts.
Spelling at this time was erratic and non-standardised, and was based phonetically off the way people spoke. However, when it came to the communication of larger ideas, English as it was was no longer sufficient. One example of early English being adapted to be able to communicate more sophisticated ideas is Shakespeare's rather considerable contribution to the language. Shakespeare was prone to invent his own words when there was not one that expressed the concepts that he wanted to convey (3), and many of these words still survive today. This has allowed English to grow from a langauge for simple communication to one for the discussion of more complex ideas, and is just one example of the English language expanding to accommodate the new ways in which it was needed to be used.
That being said, English has already evolved to the point that we can express the concepts we want to, right?
Just because we don't have a word for something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it does make it harder to convey quickly and easily. While I won't try to make up any new words for the purposes of this argument, I will make note of the fact that there are many words in other languages that do not have an English equivalent (4).
We live in a world that is more multicultural than ever before, and yet there are words that exist for one community and not for another. English was augmented with French words and phrases (cul de sac, to name example) during the time when French and English were widely spoken in the same countries, between the 12th and 16th centuries; would it not be logical to now expand English again so that we may express a wider range of ideas in a smaller number of words?
So the inclusion of new words in the English language would make it harder for people to learn? I highly doubt that there is anyone alive who knows of every word in the English language, but there is somebody out there who knows every word, or has a record of its meaning, or that word wouldn't be a part of the English language at all. Language is basically a way of representing concepts in an abstract way, and as such there is no word that does not require a definition. While some words will always require the reader to look up that definition, the shortest accurate definition of a word, were it to be subbed in, would inevitably serve to make text more cumbersome. The presence of words that represent other words in a shorter fashion allows for quicker reading for those who do know the words.
But what about those who don't know the words? The dictionary exists for just this purpose, and thanks to the Internet, most people who use English for the discussion of complex ideas that necessitate the use of obscure words have ridiculously easy access to one (5). As such, modern technologies allow for more expansion of language than ever before. The addition of words to the English language could only serve to make it a better tool for the communication of ideas.
There are more points to argue for this case, but I believe I will give my opponent an opportunity to introduce his arguments and do his best to dislodge mine before I make them. There's no use playing all your cards in the first round, after all.
the English language dates back to the 5th century
Amazing. I did not realize that English was this old.
Shakespeare was prone to invent his own words when there was not one that expressed the concepts that he wanted to convey (3), and many of these words still survive today.
That being said, English has already evolved to the point that we can express the concepts we want to, right? Wrong.
Actually, I disagree. With a few exceptions, we are perfectly able to express all ideas freely.
would it not be logical to now expand English again so that we may express a wider range of ideas in a smaller number of words?
While that would not be unreasonable, I say that condensing the language is the correct (and much easier) approach.
For example: lol. No, I don't mean "laughing out loud". Sure, "lol" is indeed used to indicate "laughing out loud", but it has a different use now. It approximates to "I know" or "You're right".
Here is a TED talk on condensed language easily doing things that we have problems with.
As you can see, it is texting that has changed how we communicate, not by expansion, but by condensation.
"As you can see, it is texting that has changed how we communicate, not by expansion, but by condensation." I'm not going to argue with you on that one, but that's not what we are here to discuss. Whether it is a change that should be happening is far more pertinent to our debate here.
Language, as our primary form of communication, is of vital importance to the spreading and discussion of ideas. As new ideas form, new words must be created in order to allow them to be discussed with greater ease. To take a recent example, the verb 'google' made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006 (1)(2). While the term began as a mere company name, the presence of he search engine in everyday life necessitated that a term be developed to refer to the act. This was a natural forming of language by society, but that us not always the way language changes.
Let's take another example. In 1877 the word 'symbiosis' entered the English language (3) to describe a state in which multiple life forms are co-dependent. The word may have found it's origins in other languages, but it did not have precisely the same meaning or intended usage. Hence, we can reasonably say that it was a new word used by scientists to explore a newly discovered phenomenon.
"With a few exceptions, we are perfectly able to express all ideas freely." Would the people of 1877 have been able to predict that one day we would need a verb like 'google' to carry out conversations? Would early biologists have considered that they might need a word to describe a phenomenon that they did not know existed? These words originated with ideas, and make it possible to discuss those ideas succinctly, so that our scientific journals aren't cluttered with sentences like 'the organisms were living in a state in which each was dependent on the other to survive' where the phrase 'the organisms were symbiotic' would do. And that only leads to derivations, like 'symbiotically'. If the word 'symbiosis' had never taken off, then instead of saying 'they were connected symbiotically' we would be forced to say something along the lines of 'they were connected by the fact that they both relied on each other to survive'. Just think how much worse deforestation would be if scientists didn't have words like symbiosis. And think how long our textbooks would be.
So how is this all relevant to the way that we make language evolve? Surely if the words spring from the ideas we should not have to have a conscious input. As I have already pointed out in my last argument, there are quite a few words that do not have any English equivalent. There, right there, are words that exist to help us discuss ideas that clearly already exist, and all we have to do is add them to our dictionary.
So this is a pretty decent reason that language expansion is a good thing. Let's take a look at how the txt spk phenomenon is butchering our language.
Let us take the word 'egregious'. This word began its life meaning something 'outstandingly good', but has since picked up the second meaning 'extraordinarily bad'. This change in usage stemmed from the word being used outside its intended context, and as a result, it has no remaining practical meaning. To take an example from the video you provided, the word 'slash' is being given a new meaning by the texting phenomenon. But what about the old meaning? Adapting a word to a new meaning diminishes the meaning it can have in either context, and as we I have discussed above, we need out words. 'Lol', with its many emerging definitions, faces the same dangers.
Now I would like to take a moment to refute the ridiculous claim that we do not use grammar as we speak. Grammar is, in fact, designed to mimic the way that we speak. I can't say that heavy literary writing is an exact rendition of our spoken language, but English did not begin as a literary language, so there must be more to punctuation than that.
At the risk of drawing on an old example, let me draw your attention to the phrase 'let's eat, Grandma'. Were you to say this allowed, you would undoubtedly leave a small pause between 'let's eat' and 'Grandma'. It's the way that we have of verbally distinguishing the phrase from 'let's eat Grandma'. The comma in the sentence is merely a visual representation of that pause. This use of punctuation to recognise intonation and pauses is widely recognised, even to the point of campaigning for the introduction of a sarcasm mark. This only goes to show that adding punctuation can only expand the ease with which we communicate in the written form.
So, clearly adding new words and punctuation is a positive step for the English language, and definitely to be preferred to allowing ourselves to slip into a perilous, txt-ified world in which nothing absolutely means anything anymore. No, unless we want every conversation to start sounding like Finnegan's Wake, the degeneration of language must be stopped.
I'm not sure why I'm debating against a TED talker here.
The point of the TED (what does that stand for?) Talk was to support my claim that language naturally compresses.
Would the people of 1877 have been able to predict that one day we would need a verb like 'google' to carry out conversations?
You're missing something: We do not need "google" in our language in order to communicate more effectively.
Even today, "google" is used interchangeably with "look it up". The average person ddoesn't know that "google" is in the dictionary. To many, "google" is just slang as opposed to an actual word.
Would early biologists have considered that they might need a word to describe a phenomenon that they did not know existed?
I ask then: "what phenomenon do we not know of?"
I believe that we have discovered most (more than 98%) of all phenomenon.
What about the 2%?
All phenomenon, known or unknown, are in a field (quantum, macro, etc.) and have characteristics (movement speed, etc.). Based on these things, we can describe/name the phenomenon.
As I have already pointed out in my last argument, there are quite a few words that do not have any English equivalent.
Though they may not have English equivalents, many of these words are unneeded.
There may be a German word for over-eating for pleasure, but I (and most people) are not going out of the way to remember a German word. I'll stick with, "over-eating for pleasure".
Let us take the word 'egregious'.
The change of this word's meaning does not affect the English Language. Why? I did not know it existed (and my hobby is study linguistics!). I, along with everyone else, use either "great" or "terrible".
No need four a four syllable word.
Adapting a word to a new meaning diminishes the meaning it can have in either context
You are wrong, and I'll show you why.
In America, the word "bloody" always means "having blood" or something around that.
In Britain/UK, the term has the same meaning as in the US, as well as also being a minor curse word.
It is pretty clear that "the crime-scene was bloody" does not mean "the crime-scene is ***".
Definitions mean little to nothing as long as people can effectively communicate.
Now I would like to take a moment to refute the ridiculous claim that we do not use grammar as we speak.
Read any book's dialougue, you will almost never find any "umms", which humans use ad nauseum. This is but one example.
Also, when telling stories, humans do not naturally establish the environment like books do.
In letters, essays, etc., thoughts are far more consise. We do not linger, like we would in normal life. This is another example of how proper grammar is different from how we speak.
the degeneration of language must be stopped.
I do not advocate, nor does anyone, the adoption of txt spk grammar.
However, those texting get their thoughts across while texting. Everyone understands. Why is this "degeneration" if it is used mainly while texting?
Whether it is a change that should be happening is far more pertinent to our debate here.
One thing I'm sure we both agree on is that we both want language to be consise. If language is condensing while staying consise, it should be allowed to do so.
The term 'google' and all other words that similarly came into existence thanks to a change in lifestyle are not absolutely necessary, but they are useful. If 'google' was not a verb, then the word 'search' would almost inevitably end up being used instead. However, with small words disappearing hither and yon, who's to say that in twenty years time, we wouldn't have dropped the 'for' in a phrase like 'I'm going to search for Fred'. In this situation, we would not be able to tell whether we were looking for Fred, or looking him up. You might say that the context would make all the difference, but surely a simple addition of another word would allow for this confusion to be solved. Why say 'look it up' when you could say 'google' or 'search', both of which fewer syllables. Also, 'google' implies the Internet, where 'look it up' could as easily apply to a library. By simply switching one word, we have provided much more information.
Why is a new word required for this? Because the Internet is a new factor which would not have been considered before.
"I believe that we have discovered most (more than 98%) of all phenomenon.
"What about the 2%?
"All phenomenon, known or unknown, are in a field (quantum, macro, etc.) and have characteristics (movement speed, etc.). Based on these things, we can describe/name the phenomenon."
I would like to bring up something called Dark Matter (1)(2). Our scientists are pretty sure that it's there, but they don't know what it is. They speculate, but that's a whopping 95% of the universe that is yet to be known.
Try the Electron Band Theory. This is meant to explain why conductors conduct, but as new conductors are created, the Band Theory isn't measuring up anymore(3).
Scientists throughout history have claimed that they were nearing the end of what was there to learn, and every time a new mystery has come to smack us in the face. Once it was fact that the Earth was flat, and everything that didn't make sense was magic. They thought they knew almost everything too.
Now the useless words. There has to be some reason that the Germans have a word for over eating for pleasure, and we don't. The most likely reason is cultural difference, but with globalisation on the prowl, pretty soon if it's in Germany, it'll be here too. The concept might be as foreign to us as 'googling' was to a 19th century scientist, but the world changes, and language must evolve with it.
I would like to take the time to note that I did not state, in my last round, that the loss of the word 'egregious' was the greatest tragedy of our time. It was unfortunate, certainly, but the point I was making was that the same thing could happen to other words. The forces of mal-definition are not to be trusted. Give them an inch, and they'll spin you around until you don't even know what you're talking about any more.
My opponent brings up the word 'bloody' as an example of where a word has taken on new meaning without negative repercussion. While, 'the crime scene was bloody' might not easily take a double meaning 'the bloody crime scene' could. If we had simply chosen a better exploitive, then we would not have to think so carefully about how we phrase our sentences, meaning more ease of communication.
"Definitions mean little to nothing as long as people can effectively communicate."
If we allowed language to be shaped as it wished, with no concrete definitions, pretty soon apple would mean a fruit in one country, and something completely obscene in another. English as a whole would cease to be, breaking down into sub languages and leaving us unable to communicate, as without a definition to learn it would be mush harder to study another language. Definitions are essential for any meaningful widespread communication
"Read any book's dialougue, you will almost never find any "umms", which humans use ad nauseum. This is but one example."
'Umm' adds no actual meaning to a conversation. It merely allows the speaker time to consider their words. This is not necessary when writing, because the reader is not reading as we write. Any statement, minus any 'umm's will not lose its meaning. A pause or a comma on the other hand, can mean life or death for our over-referenced grandmother.
"Also, when telling stories, humans do not naturally establish the environment like books do."
This is a literary technique, and has nothing to do with the language used to describe the environment. This technique stems from the fact that books tell more intricate stories than we usually tell in everyday life. A storyteller, whether writing or speaking, will set the scene for his or her tale. Someone retelling an everyday event will not, regardless of whether they are describing the event to a friend or writing it in a journal.
"In letters, essays, etc., thoughts are far more consise. We do not linger, like we would in normal life. This is another example of how proper grammar is different from how we speak."
Again, the subject matter is critical. An essay is by definition a structured argument. If you were trying to convince someone of something, while they were gagged, and you had time to prepare your thoughts before you spoke, then you would no doubt relate your argument in a 'concise' fashion. I never claimed that all writing reflected conversation. There are many different purposes and contexts in language, after all.
We are losing words all the time. We need to stop this literary massacre before it strips us of everything we have worked for. The only way forward in understanding the universe around us is to arm ourselves with the words to understand and communicate about it.
who's to say that in twenty years time, we wouldn't have dropped the 'for' in a phrase like 'I'm going to search for Fred'.
"For" would not disappear because it is necessary to communicate the idea.
Try the Electron Band Theory.
Congradulations. This is a concept I have never heard of.
I say this because I, a kid who looks as far into Quantum Mechanics that he can without textbooks, has never heard of it. Assuming that I am more knoweledgable than the Average Alex, never will anyone short of Hawking will ever mention it.
But even if it is important, why would new words be needed to describe this phenomenon?
"Quantum Gravity" is not called "Gffda Sasfdfg" because there are already terms to describe the concept: "Quantum" and "Gravitation".
The concept might be as foreign to us as 'googling' was to a 19th century scientist, but the world changes, and language must evolve with it.
Why would we need a word for Pleasure-Eating? Will we suddenly need that word/
It was unfortunate, certainly, but the point I was making was that the same thing could happen to other words.
Imagine, if you will, that egregious still only meant great. Would you say "That was egregious!" or would you say "That was great!".
Egregious is not neccesary.
If, as you claim, other words start disappearing, then they would have to have a replacement that a large majority consider more usefull than the original.
While, 'the crime scene was bloody' might not easily take a double meaning 'the bloody crime scene' could
When talking about a crime-scene, only stories would take the time to insert an adjective, so it is most likely that, in normal conversation, the word would be a swear.
If we allowed language to be shaped as it wished, with no concrete definitions, pretty soon apple would mean a fruit in one country, and something completely obscene in another.
Why would this cause a breakdown in English? It has already happened, and we can still communicate just as effectively, if not more effectively than before.
I'll give you an example. You seem to be fond of Shakespeare, so I will use a scene from Romeo and Juliet to prove my point.
Do you remember the first scene where the soldiers are talking, and one says that he will "take the maids' heads"? The soldier even comments that we can take it anyway we want to take it.
For us, the meaning of the sentence is "I will cut off their heads".
But back then it could also mean "I will take their virginity".
The latter meaning has backed up into obscurity, but our language has not deteriorated to the point of turmoil, even after 300 years.
'Umm' adds no actual meaning to a conversation
I was just showing that we do not write like we talk. We often talk with having scripted your statements in your head.
We need to stop this literary massacre before it strips us of everything we have worked for.
In order for a word to disappear, people would have to stop using it. If people stop using a word, then those 10000s of people would either have no use for the concept, or would have replaced the word with a much better word.
I love debating you; you know what you're talking about and type with a kind of awesomeness.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Poetaster 3 years ago
|Agreed with before the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Agreed with after the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Who had better conduct:||-||-||1 point|
|Had better spelling and grammar:||-||-||1 point|
|Made more convincing arguments:||-||-||3 points|
|Used the most reliable sources:||-||-||2 points|
|Total points awarded:||7||0|
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gave arguments which met her burden of proof and which Con did not succeed in undermining. Pro used superior sources. Con committed more spelling errors than Pro did, and loses conduct for posting a video instead of making an argument in R2.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.