A few mere micro-years ago, the title of this flash-article would have been considered bad clacking. That was before ‘clacking’ became the ordinary word for ‘writing’ — a fact-bundle which is hard to process for many intakers (formerly known as “readers”) who find it rough to project cyber-models of history which include anything pre-Gatesian, including pens and paper. The reality is that for centuries, the English language existed in a fragmented state with sub-dialects and localized “slang” as well as national and ethnic divergences.
At one time, right up through the late 21st century, for example, the British and American peoples were often jokingly referred to as a single people divided by a common language. Yestermorrow’s English was a language both soupy and mercurial; searching for an expert advice in matters of grammar and diction often resulted in as many different opinions as there were responders.
Yes, it is hard to belive that controversies of “dangling participles” or “split infinitives” actually dominated the attention of serious scholars and researches in those days when pen and paper kept the people of the world isolated and fed largely on the propaganda of mass-publishers and mass media outlets. That is at least partially why words like “yestermorrow” with its clever combination of past/future as connected phenomena proved beyond the ken of of our ancestors.
And, of course, changes in the English language have reprogrammed many of those still living to a deeper interface with language and with the way words impact our daily lives. Not long ago, “headlines” were the talk of the day, but our age of news-rings and byte-broadcasts allow the important events of the world and in your local areas to bring you instant awareness of what’s happening — and you don’t have to depend on a mega-media conglomerate to feed you information.
The medium is an important influence on language and most importantly on the English language which “came of age” in the early twentieth century as the much-needed proliferation of electronic and digital media overthrew the old molds of television, radio, and print. These were early moves toward the globalization of English, but in retrospect they seem like baby-steps compared to todays standardized blend of Australian, British, and American dialects in English.
No longer “separated” by a common language but unified by “Internet” language, the differences between British, American, and Australian English still exist, and will never be completely eradicated, but these are now of interest mainly to linguistic specialists and historians, few in number and as obscure as they are traditional. So what lies ahead for language as the spread of micro-digital technology continues to impact all forms of communication? By staying true to the title of this article, let’s predict the future by examining the past.
In an exciting but now dated study of the possibility of English as a global language, written by and published in the author states that the single most formidable barrier to any language emerging as a global language is that of political and cultural resistance: “Pressures arising out of the need to express community identity might disrupt the ability of English to function as a global language. Here, the chief scenario envisaged is one where the language fragments into mutually unintelligible varieties, in much the way that vulgar Latin did a millennium ago” (Crystal 2003, p. 24).
But these pressures have been almost completely debugged and with technology pushing it forward, English seems destined to become a world language, the first truly world language; a time is soon coming when nationalistic expressions of English such as those carried for centuries by nations such as Britain, Australia, and The United States are making room for the language of the world; fifty years from now, the will be no “owner” of the English language: “By that time, the only possible concept of ownership will be a global one” (Crystal 2003, p. 140).