11-17-2008: I wrote this, in ignorance of a lot of truth about language. As Seth pointed out, most of my complaints were aimed at written English standards, as determined by some abstract association of English scholars, dictionary authors, and organizations like the MLA. All other rants were naively uninformed.
English has been changing since it’s creation, just like any language. The difference between American English and most other languages is the incredible amount of hybridization that is constantly occuring. As referred to as a cultural melting pot, the States are also a great linguistic melting pot.
So which version becomes 2.0? Ebonics? 1337 Speak? TexMex? Engrish? or what? Well this is part of the problem and the reason that there hasn’t been a huge movement to renovate our language. The concept isn’t really all that new, nations have been implimenting new standards for languages and alphabets since mass communication has been possible, and somewhat before. Korea for example created an original phonetic alphabet in the 20th century and it only took a little over half a century for it to become the primarily used written alphabet.
My ideas for 2.0
-Remember when you learned the alphabet in school? How they tried to explain long vowels and short vowels and they used little symbols to designate which made which sounds. Why don’t we see these after learning about them, they would make reading english much more user-friendly and much more easily standardized so as to prevent the changing pronunciations of “oo” versus “u” versus “o.” Why does the sound have to depend on the word it’s in? Doesn’t this seem a little stupid?
-Along the same lines as above, get rid of types of phonetics that are rare or outdated. Most people mispronounce “climb” as “clime” anyway, so why not change the spelling? The dictionary could be re-written, they make new editions frequently anyway.
-Get rid of stupid grammar rules. I have to hand it to the guys in charge on this one, they’re working on it. It is now somewhat acceptable to verbify words and split infinitives, but there are still a large amount of pointless grammatical rules that are being maintained for reasons no better than tradition.
-I could list a hundred and one specific instances of things that are stupid, but I’m getting tired of ranting, I think you probably get the point.
I do however recognize the challenge that reworking the entire language (and quite a hefty language we have) poses to everyone, speakers and writers alike. What would we have to do to actually change it? Make people interested in simplifying it, on a large scale. That’s really all it takes.