different drummers (WAS Language change through "ignorance")

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jun 19 16:06:08 UTC 2003

Ron B noted:

One of my colleagues wrote me this in an e-mail. It illustrates perfectly
Arnold Zwicky's recent comment to the effect that language change takes
place in
part because EVERYBODY sometimes marches to a different drummer. Has ANYBODY
seen this before? (I suppose if I did I GOOGLE search I'd find lots of
instances of this new "idiom").

> Hope everything is in tack.  I will come in Friday or Monday. ...


These sort of language slips and performance errors are responsible for a
lot of growth and change in language.

When I type, the words are "sounding" in my head, and sometimes I type a
homophone for the correct word.  I expect this happens a lot, (or "alot").

Sure, ignorance is a factor in language change, but by no means the only
one, and probably not the most important one.

Since Cicero ("O tempora, O mores") pedants and alarmists have been decrying
the downfall of language and civilization as we know it.  Somehow we carry
on.  There are the occasional periods like the once-so-called (now not PC, I
guess) Dark Ages in Western Europe, when learning suffered and whole realms
of knowledge were actually forgotten or lost, some of it forever.  But
things moved on, and the monks and Arab intellectuals saved much of ancient
literature and thought for us moderns.

War aside, I think we can rest easy about the future of the language.  As it
changes, it finds new avenues of beauty and paths for innovative thought.

Frank Abate

More information about the Ads-l mailing list