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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Is the English language changing?

Click on the title to this post for a helpful read. The author even refers to the change from the old negative word order found in the Bible to the contemporary word order. (Hint, hint, ESV team, listen up!)

Categories: , ,


At Sun Jul 03, 08:27:00 AM, Blogger Trevor Jenkins said...

Much of the material in the linked page is covered in greater depth in a recent British book (The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language) by Melvyn Bragg --- Lord Bragg of Wigton --- broadcaster, and writer. He doesn't address the negative word order per se; only making a few comments upon word order in general during the introduction. But does go into considerable depth about the change of the language from the time Beowulf was written, through Shakespeare to the "modernisation" American-English spelling by Webster (more a political act following a hatred of all things English than a rational choice). There's a TV series to accompany the book, which have been picked up by PBS or a similar station.

At Sun Jul 03, 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Phil (Col 1:27-28) said...

A couple of questions...

1) When one one of my children or even grandcildren say something like this: "I really like your hair, not". Is this a reverse negative? If so then, its back and has been for sometime. If not, it certainly sounds like it, but what do I know :).

2) When we consider the changing of the Enlish Language, how much impact is there going to be from the incredible influx of illegals into this country upon our English language? Immigrants have always had an impact upon the English language as far as I know, correct?

3) What will this utlimately do to the translation process for English Bibles?

Just wondering.

Blessings in Christ Jesus!

At Sun Jul 03, 02:25:00 PM, Blogger Trevor Jenkins said...

Children putting not at the end of a sentence is done more for effect than for grammatical purposes. A challenge to parental authority than to generative grammar.

According to Bragg's book illegal immigrants (aka invaders) to England shaped the language. It is why we have so rich a vocabulary with Latin, French, German, Scandinavian words all describing similar concepts at our disposal. Of course, this may not be having quite the same effect upon American English today as it had on English in the past. And in any case the numbers of illegal immigrants to England (Scotland, Wales and Ireland) isn't as large as the xenophobes make out. In time these incomers may influence how the language develops.

If the language changes then Bible translations needs to reflect that. One of the reasons why the KJV is no longer suitable for use in the 21st century. The language it portrays was already archaic at the time of publication. No one talks like that now; they probably did not talk like that then. Changes to the Bible translation process itself do not need to be made, we just need to return to the principles laid down by Martin Luther and Jerome centuries ago and that Beckman/Callow, Nida/Taber, Larson, and Gutt theorised about in the mid to late 20th century. For this to succeed the change is not in the language but the attitudes of Bible readers.

At Sun Jul 03, 03:05:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Phil asked: "1) When one one of my children or even grandcildren say something like this: "I really like your hair, not". Is this a reverse negative?"

No. The reversed order negative is how negative sentences were ordered 250+ years ago. For instance, today we might say:

"I did not fall down."

The old word order was:

"I fell not down."

As Trevor mentions in his comment, the sentence-final not tag is a different (linguistic!) animal.


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