10 July 2012

The Evolution of Language

I saw this yesterday. Being a pendant with an iPhone and a social media presence, I took a photograph and shared it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. There was outrage in the comments, even calls for a sacking at Sainsbury's. I wouldn't go that far, but there does seem to be a decline in the quality of written English.

Let's ignore txtspk (and hope it goes away). I can understand the need to abbreviate when you have limited characters to play with, or you are learning shorthand (If u cn rd ths msg u cld bkm a...), but when you have unlimited characters there's no need to shorten anything.

My English isn't perfect, clearly. This is a blog, however, and I write as I speak. I use my blogging voice to convey my message. Sometimes I start sentences with 'and' or 'but'. I must be part of the decline.

Perhaps this is not the end of days though, perhaps it is evolution. Language has evolved slowly, over hundreds of years. When I was at school I was taught to use 'an' in front of words beginning with the letter H. I was also taught to capitalise the names of the seasons. This is no longer required, apparently.

I guess with the explosion of communication that the internet brings there is very little proof-reading. Some people really need to self-edit, but that's another blog post. Like a stream trying to carve a straight line to the ocean, so complicated grammatical rules are abandoned in favour of getting a message across.

Does it matter how we write so long as we are understood? I'd like to agree, but I can't. I'm with Lynne Truss. I just searched Amazon for her book on the zero tolerance approach to punctuation, 'Eats, Shoot and Leaves' and saw that the people working there are confused about where to put the comma.

This book is fantastic if you want to know why the sign should say Greengrocer's Apples, not Greengrocers Apple's.

The top five most common crimes against grammar:
  1. Confusing your with you're
  2. Confusing there, their and they're
  3. The plural of mum is mums, not mum's
  4. Using should of instead of should have
  5. Not using a capital I. I'm looking directly at you, CBeebies. It should be 'I Can Cook', not 'i can cook'.

What would you add, or do you think it really doesn't matter?


  • Kitchen

    From top-spec cookers to designer coffee machines, John Lewis has everything you need to make your kitchen the heart of the home.
  • Cameras

    Find digital cameras that fit your needs perfectly at John Lewis. Our experts can guide you through the confusing maze of megapixels.
  • Laundry

    In the market for a new integrated washing machine? John Lewis has a great range, and we’ll even dispose of your old one for you.
  • Office

    With a huge range of laptops available and expert advice on hand, John Lewis can help you find your perfect one.
  • Out and About

    From the shuffle to the nano, John Lewis has iPods to suit your needs and keep your ears entertained while you’re on the move.



  1. My pet hate is the misspelling of definite. People come up with so many ways of misspelling it: definate, definete, definiate, the list is endless.

  2. @Alex, that's a really common one. Ditto loose for lose. If I'm not sure of a spelling I just Google it. It's not difficult.

  3. The loose for lose really is one that really gets my dander up!

    Yes, I think the rules still matter. But, I'm fussy like that.

    1. @Gigi, I wonder if there are enough of us to stop the decline? Sadly, I doubt it.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin