26 December 2010

The Future of Language

There has been much speculation lately about the future of language, indeed speculation seems to be the very foundation of modern society. The future is notoriously difficult to predict, and the future of language even more notorious as we don't know what the language of the future will be and it is far from clear that, even were we to predict the future perfectly, they will still be capable of understanding our prediction, written as it is in the language of today and not the language of tomorrow, which is difficult to know in advance for the above-stated reasons.

But last night I figured out where language is going. You know how some languages have a specific word for something but in other languages they don't really have a word for that but they get to roughly the same idea by combining other words and phrases, perhaps illustrating with an example? Well humans are getting smarter and eventually will get sick of pulling from the same old bag of sounds and words to build up the same old sentences and arguments. Instead, people will start to invent single words that represent entire concepts, conversations, chains of reasoning, and so forth.

Perhaps a brief example may prove enlightening.

How are you doing, how's it going, what's up and all such simple openers could be represented by a single word, let's say it's 'Urgh.' Likewise every possible reply, from I'm fine to My back is breaking to Whatever I can say that will get me away from you as fast as possible, will each be represented by a single word -- for the sake of dragging this out further let's say, respectively, dunn, fosh, and tope. If this trend continues evolving at anything like the present rate of evolution, a conversation in the year 2300 might go something like this:

Human 1: Urgh.
Human 2: Plask.
Human 1: Offervessenhosen.
Human 2: Varn?
Human 1: Actually of all the composers of the 20th century the one I most prefer is Shostakovitch.
Human 2: Brunk!*
*"You pretentious clown, despite my nonviolent nature I long to inflict physical harm!"

It can be seen that efficiency is greatly improved, as a rambling conversation that might have taken all night back when we were in college could in future be completed in less than thirty seconds, with no loss in depth or comprehension and with significant savings of incense. On the other hand one cannot help but feel that inevitably something will be lost, something that cannot be expressed in one word, no matter of how many syllables. Still that's progress, and there's nothing we can do about it except hunker down and enjoy the ride. Check back in this space around 2250 and we'll see how this prediction turns out. Well if we can decipher all them futuristic new words the kids will be using by then.

And this is where I get my sign-off on. Are you ready Cincinnati? Boom shaka-laka Boom-ah! Post out.

1 comment:

  1. "Instead, people will start to invent single words that represent entire concepts, conversations, chains of reasoning, and so forth."
    Isn’t this what birds already do? And to a lesser extent, through their chemical secretions, slugs?


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