V is for the Vernacular

I touched on this last week, but I feel like I have more to say.
Have you ever wondered how different life would be if we still spoke the same way as people in “Ye Olde Days”?

Language constantly changes. It depends on (to a certain extent) location, age demographic, education and wealth. This much has not changed. We speak differently in a range of various circumstances, and around different people. Language changes every second, yet we don’t take the time to stop and notice.

What would life be like with all this modernity and technology, if we still spoke in the vernacular of, say, the 1600s?
I am very interested in the changing tendencies of language – where the words that we use now come from and what was used in its place 100 years ago.
In my Katherine Parr post (K is for Katherine Parr), I mentioned piece I wrote about the castle that she lived in. In the piece, too I wrote (or tried to write) sections in the vernacular of 1548 – the year that she died. I found the task both challenging and rewarding. I learnt that many of the words that we use didn’t originate until much later in the language timeline, yet some of their less common, yet still prevalent synonyms have still been around (almost) since the beginning.
Of course, doing our most common slang (sometimes known as Internet slang) such as lol, totes, amazeballs, swag, yolo, ship (not the boat kind), cannon (not the gun kind) and OTP that have come about only in the last few years. Some people have not heard of most of these. I don’t blame them.

When doing my research to write the Katherine Parr piece, I found it difficult to give my writing depth and colour without being able to use most of the adjectives I wanted. This, ultimately, got me thinking: what would our world be like if language constantly stayed the same?

Assumingly, back in 1548, there were words surfacing that were the “Ye Olde Days” equivalent of lol, yolo and their friends which people thought would be as transient as the tide. Some of those words we might still use today.

I wish I could know whether a 2014 human and a 1548 human would be able to have a communicable conversation. I wish I could know their levels of confusion. Because they both claim they would speak English, is 2014 English really the same language as 1548 English?

If you would like to know more about when the words that you use originated, check out etymonline.com

The guy spoke so weirdly. He said that he didn’t understand me. But he was talking English…I think… and so am I so why would he say that I made no sense?
You know how the Shakespeare plays are all “my heart-eth has been pierced-eth with unkind-eth words made of glass-eth”, or something like that? Well, he talked like that.
If anyone wasn’t making sense, it was him. This isn’t English Literature, mate, this is real life. You need to update the vocab.
He was even in the period drama get-up. Was he practicing for some sort of play? Am I on Punk’d? Should I start looking for the hidden cameras?
Something about him seemed real, though. I think it might have been the way he got so intensely pissed at me when I tried to help him. I am almost sure he was asking for directions.
He said “tavern.” That’s a bar, right? He wasn’t looking for some old-timey strip club? Or a place that sells, like, eagles or something?
Anyway, I pointed him in the direction of the pub down the road. And he said he wanted a red lion, or something.
I tried to tell him that lions aren’t pets and that I didn’t think that red lions were a thing, but he totes started shouting high speed gibberish in my face.
I think he told me I was failure of a human in his version of English, but I am not really sure.
Anyway, he walked off in a huff before I knew what was going on.
People are weird. Where did he come from?


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