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Does English language get worse?

ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,912Member Uncommon

I must admit, internet is *maybe* not representative, so it is something I really would like to know from native speakers. As you may or may not know, as German, English is of course not my native language. But when I read old books, say 100 years old ones, or watch old films, say from the 1940ies to60ies, I have this impression like English got worse. And I am not speaking of the usual foreigner issues, like their and there or were and where. No, I have the impression like the vocabulary itself is shrinking, sort of becoming more "primitive".

Let me make this example, which is of course a bit a parody, but you then may get what I mean:


don't dawdle around - don't fuck around
I am flummoxed - I am fucked up
For Pete's sake - what the fuck
poppycock! - fuck!
prithee do this - the fuck do this
Gosh - fuck
Golly - fucking
confound it - fuck!
in cahoots with - fucking someone up
he was a cantakerous man - he was a fucked up man
I hit his rickety leg - I hit his fucked up leg
don't twaddle around - don't fuck around
he is utterly flagitious - he is utterly fucked up

Ok, that is maybe a bit extreme, but you hopefully get my meaning. First, English seems to have gotten much, much more "gross", and sort of losing a large number of words, as I said like getting more and more primitive. Since English is my main online language, this is of course sort of unsettling even for me. Because if a language gets more primitive, it is usually a sign people become more primitive in their thinking. We think in language, and losing words is losing ideas, nuances of expression.

So, I am curious to see how native English speakers experience and view this? What is your opinion about this?


Additional thought:

It was just one example. I generally have the idea that we live in a culture that decends back into a barbaric state. I define the rise of a culture as refinement and elaborate culture, whereas the primitive is the raw, where details and nuances drop and things fall back into stark extremes.

See architecture or art as well. In the aristocratic times of Europe or the Roman Empire in the antique, there was an upper class which was very educated, very refined and that culture trickled down, bit by bit. From the most elaborate culture of kings and queen (Versailles!) to a rich middle class in cities like London and Paris, which supported worthy writers, artictects, sculpurers, drawers asf, to a middle class which rose during the 18th-19th century. The low class was mostly left our and lived in trash. Now when the Socialist movement tried to remedy that, it looked only on the practical needs. Like clean and flowing water, sanitary elements like restrooms, clean and dry space to live asf. They did not seek to elevate the "lowly masses" spiritually or culturally. Especially in Europe the upper and middle classes were destroyed in the two World Wars, spiritually and in their soul. When in the pre-WW era a rich man built a factory, often it looked like a castle! It was often a piece of architectural art, like Art Noveau or classic art! Because the upper and middle class believed in a "prestige", "noblesse obliege", aristocracy oblieges. To be upper or middle class was demanding something, like manners, like clothing, like habits, like supporting beauty in art, architecture, writing asf. They felt it was their social duty.

Nowadays the upper and upper middle class feel no obligation, but they began to be pulled down by the ever spreading lower class ideology of "practicality". Look at the houses we built. Look at the clothing we wear. Look at the language we use. It lost all beauty, all refinement. It dropped back to a primitive barbarism, where merely the rational need is fulfilled. Just compare that utmost ugly new Chancellors office built in Berlin after the reunification with the timeless beauty of the Imperial Age buildings left over. Or look at any Russian city: everything built after the Szar in Sovjet times is a manifestation of pragmatic uglyness. Classes feel no habitual obligation, no cultural obligation, no duty to represend and thus  elevate arts, literature and culture. They just seek power, and that's it.

Overall you see people become tribalized, like living in tribes. They tattoo their skins or have signs to belong to "gangs" like tribes or old. The politicians who evolved from official servants of feudal lords, devolve back into that servile role of greater masters. In the USA that development is almost complete and in the EU it is full underway: a re-feudalization, just the new feudal class has no cultural sense, no feeling of obligation to represent and refine; they are mere "warlords": defining themselves via their power and the use of it.

Now the soulless, ugly, pragmatic, functional culture of the lower class, the mass culture, dominates our societies. It is a nihilistic, reductionist, soulless "style" without style, where every remaining beauty of past ages is unbearable for them to see, because it reminds them of their own primitivity and barbary. Like the medieval men in Europe after the collapse of Rome just took the stones from the great Roman buildings, because they could no longer relate to that great culture. That is the state we have developed. We live in a culture we inherited, but we no longer have the cultural skills, the soul, the mental state, to sustain or even create such a civilization. We live AS barbarians inside a civilization left over to us.

Bleak, but that is what I see.



@MODERATOR: I hope this stands still enough on the ground of culture not politics. I am not discussing the trivial day to day matters of political parties or ideologies. Those interest me zilch. But even gamers are part of a cultural development, so their opinion interests me as well.

People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert


  • GruntyGrunty TexasPosts: 7,974Member Rare

    I think I'll go over and talk to those Italians. It looks like they're having lots of fun. They also might know a good place to eat around here.


    She was grimacing. "That does sound like what America's has been trying to do for the last century or two--get rich faster than the parasites could steal it."   The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson
  • sweetbulletsweetbullet BeijingPosts: 5Member

    u dont see ppl use that sort of words when speaking with their parents teachers or bosses, or they would be "fucked up" ;p

  • DekronDekron Oklahoma City, OKPosts: 7,354Member Uncommon

    This explains everything for you.

  • killerTwinkiekillerTwinkie Eau Claire, WIPosts: 1,694Member

    Orange = the Important stuff.

    Even though the English language is growing, the average American lexicon is discreasing. This is likely caused by an  increase in population, the decrease in difficult studies, and a lower American IQ. As of 2011, the average American IQ is ~84.X - 100. Of course outliers exist, but this proves an "average".

    For instance: My IQ is around 120-125. This puts me in the 95th percentile in the United States. Globally, i'm sure this is an average IQ.

    With all things considered, I'm sure we'll see an increase in vocabulary. Why? The number of Americans holding secondary education certificates/degrees is increasing. With education comes an increased vocabulary.

    Just for the hell of it... Cartman, from South Park, using the "f" word:

    KillerTwinkie - That one guy who used to mod's forums.

  • OG_ZorvanOG_Zorvan Posts: 738Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Elikal


    don't dawdle around - don't fuck around
    I am flummoxed - I am fucked up
    For Pete's sake - what the fuck
    poppycock! - fuck!
    prithee do this -  please do this
    Gosh - damn or fuck
    Golly -damn or fuck
    confound it - fuck!
    in cahoots with -  hanging with
    he was a cantakerous man - he was a fucked up man
    I hit his rickety leg - I hit his fucked up leg
    don't twaddle around - don't fuck around
    he is utterly flagitious - he is utterly fucked up


    You had a misunderstanding of the meanings of "prithee" and "cahoots". Also, gosh/golly are the same thing. They're an exclamation (damn! or Fuck!), not a verb or descriptor ( fucking ).

    On the rest of it, it's not so much that the English language has "devolved' as it is we just got rid of a lot of words we didn't need. Like "thee" and "thou". Both mean "you", so we eliminated the two older for the one newer. Same as 'thine" went away for "your".

    As far as the "fuck this, fuck that", language goes, it's just lazy slang.

    Probably 90% of us on these boards over the age of 16 don't use this sort of language in "proper" or "formal" settings. We use it in informal settings, such as hanging out with your friends or here on the interwebs.

  • delete5230delete5230 Posts: 3,707Member Rare

    I'm from the United States, and it just so happens I'm in Germany now.

    Germans have a very crud language......They can't sing at all :)

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