Greetings, dear friends,
What has happened to the English language?
In scarcely a generation, it has been murdered, butchered and nearly forgotten in radio, television and the printed media.
Our once beautiful language has been reduced to a small handful of monosyllabic grunts, and continues on its dizzying nosedive into oblivion.
Back in 1611, at the time that great literary work was printed, the Authorized King James translation of the Bible into English, our language was complex, powerful, meaningful, expressive, and incredibly beautiful.
Today, if a Bible translation is rated at higher than a Grade 5 level, it's considered too complex and difficult for the average reader, and many translations are even simpler than that.
In the time of King James and Shakespeare, you could tell by the words that were used, for example, if the speaker was speaking to a group or an individual, depending on whether the word, "thou" was used, or the words, "thee" or "ye." (singular and plural)
The same rules applied with many other words, making the language clearer than it is today.
In the 19th century, some of the greatest classics of all time were written by people such as Charles Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper, the Bronte sisters,Robert Louis Stevenson, Louisa May Alcott, and many others.
In the 20th century, works of such magnitude as those produced in the previous century became far fewer, to the point where it would be both extremely unusual and likely very poor business to produce such a work today. It just wouldn't sell!
At one time, anyone who could read would find it pure joy to immerse themselves in a book written by a great author, even going back to the time of Homer and Plutarch. The books were vividly and brilliantly written with such descriptive and excellent language as to put the reader completely into the setting!
Today, most of the words that would create such a setting are too long, too difficult, and too much bother to read. People would rather watch a TV show with people speaking to one another with at most a Grade 3 level of English, and more often than not, with language filled with idioms and colloquialisms that would make a person from a foreign country, who has actually learned English properly, shake his or her head in wonder, having absolutely no idea what the people are saying at all.
Will it end? It doesn't seem so. The "new" approach to teaching language in the Western World is the "whole language" approach, which teaches children simply to sight read a small handful of "key" words, and to guess the rest by their context. The idea is that children learn to talk by being immersed in language in their home, so they should be able to learn to read by being immersed in words at school. It seems to me that the people who came up with such an idea have read far too many Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes books!
Thankfully, there are still some good teachers who are still trying to squeeze in spelling, grammar, and excellence in reading, but they are swimming against an ever increasing current of opposition.
Parents MUST spend time with their children encouraging them, helping them and challenging them to read ever more difficult language if there is to be any hope left at all for our once-great language. Otherwise, it will continue to be cut up, cast off, and buried in the refuse it is rapidly becoming.
That's my rant for today.