Questions inspired by my blog: Culture’s Price

At the end of Postman’s “First Idea” section of his article, he says, “Idea Number One, then, is that culture always pays a price for technology”.  This inspired a lot of material for my blog in addition to a lot of questions:

What culture is he talking about, though; academic culture, culture in general or both?  What is that price?  Can or should the price be changed?  After all, language is not a static entity; it is constantly changing and evolving, even despite the best efforts of those cultures who try to control it.  Is culture really “paying a price” or is it evolving?  It’s difficult for me to admit that formal and even vernacular English are in grave danger—these are languages I speak.  Is it possible to become a “digital native” after devoting most of my life and education to formal English?  Will text-speak forever alter the way students express themselves?  Are we hanging on to written formal English the way institutions held on to Greek and Latin for so long?  Do we have a responsibility as academics to hang on to it for the sake of culture or is it just a matter of time before it slides through our fingers anyway?

1 comment for “Questions inspired by my blog: Culture’s Price

  1. September 30, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Hasn’t English always welcomed new words? Like many an English major, I treasure correct grammar and elegant syntax, but as you say, language is not a static thing. It serves its speakers, not the other way around. If the lives of the speakers are changing in fundamental ways, change in language seems only natural. Must we have such an attachment to the letters ‘a-r-e’ that if the word they represent comes to be represented in the more expedient ‘r,’ we believe we have lost something of major importance? Personally, I find the current pressures on English fascinating and exhilarating. Developments such as textspeak and l33t present new potentials for written language. These innovations add as much or more than we may lose, should they become ‘standard’ usage. For example, messages written in l33t (and textspeak, too) incorporate a creative element of display in the text–one which encodes additional levels of meaning.

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