Saturday, 25 May 2013

Lingo Frankenstein

Anybody reasonably knowledgeable on the subject will readily admit that language evolves. Shakespeare's sonnets and Stephen King's tales of horror may technically have been written in the same language, but the ability to understand the latter does not necessarily mean being able to understand the former. English itself has a reputation as being possibly the most malleable of all languages. Not just slowly evolving, but also existing contemporaneously as a vast myriad of discrete dialects, native to different regions and socioeconomic classes.

Long ago a small country's impetuous desire for world domination laid the foundations for the need of a lingua franca. That is, the lingua of the British Empire, insinuating its grasp across continents via colonization and trade. A process that planted powerful roots over the centuries - roots which exploded like landmines almost as soon as the world wide web stepped on each one of them.

Now, in the grand tradition of colourful patois such as pidgin English, Singlish, and Hinglish, there has emerged a new champion which is wider reaching, and further removed from its parent than any of its predecessors: bastard English.

Bastard English precludes the need for any formal or informal tuition. All one needs to do to demonstrate proficiency is pluck a few voguish sounding words from any English language pop song or Hollywood film and proceed to insert them liberally into one's native language during speech or when typing out text. The absence of a point is no obstacle in the creation of BE prose. Nouns that are incongruous both semantically, and by their proximity to other words, are accepted by others equally willing to mangle verbs and place them haphazardly within an entirely different language. Those on the receiving end may either reciprocate with similarly high minded gibberish, or feign to have overlooked these pearls of wisdom - cryptic yet ostentatious, indecipherable yet beyond reproach. Either way, no party involved will be worse off at the conclusion of the exchange.

BE is simultaneously both everywhere and nowhere. While there is no questioning its ubiquity, not only in the halls of cyberspace, but also throughout old media, its unruliness, and complete and utter absence of syntax, mean it is the holy grail of the world's leading etymologists. You will never come across a book containing helpful tips on how to acquire a set of everyday phrases in bastard English. 

A partial key to its success is the way it lends itself so neatly to the world of social media - meeting places that know no geographical boundaries. Those who thought they had trouble communicating with people they didn't really know in the physical world, now delight in the knowledge that the experience not only exists online, but has been enhanced by the fact that almost everybody involved is now united by an ignorance of absolutely everything that is being said. Native speakers no longer bow to cries by crusty fuddy-duddies that some approximation of a standardized language should be observed in order to maintain a semblance of clarity. Rather, the new guard revels in the notion that they are now able to projectile vomit whatever thread of stray thought may be occupying their minds in the moment, via keyboard, to be preserved by the data miners of cyberspace for a potential eternity. Future generations communicating via CGI, grunts and hand signals will marvel at the chaotic complexity of their unintelligible ancestors.  

To state that BE is solely practiced by a bored, underachieving underclass would be giving the youth of today far too much credit, and a gross exaggeration. Any nascent democracy politician worth his salt will have long ago realized that BE lends itself to politics like no other form of communication. For oratory purposes, it is unbeatable, instilling the speaker with a false sense of confidence and the listener a false sense of promise. Its real genius being the ability of its unique opaqueness to disguise its fitting vapidity.

We worry about our children learning nothing in school, and going on to do nothing in life. A shrinking, globalized marketplace with a labour force swelling out of proportion followed by ever diminishing returns. Instead why aren't we learning from the future which has already arrived? To hell with the abysmal current state of public education. The biggest educational problem has already been identified and is easily soluble. We now know there is a common language which can be used to interconnect small, medium and large enterprises. Old world governments and emerging economies. One language exists, and its greatest claim to fame is that everybody and nobody can understand a single sentence of it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment