A measure of how English has changed?

Proofreading_and_editing_blog_3The Cambridge English Corpus have been compiling a database of spoken English which would take 88,766 hours to read aloud. Analysing this data has shown up some interesting trends:

  • The average English speaking child says “like” 5 times as often as his or her grandparents. This is logical when you think of the new phrases that have entered common parlance, such as “I was like, Yeah”.
  • “Love” is used 6 times more than “hate”.
  • Despite popular belief, the Americans talk about the weather just as much as the British.

The academics who have analysed this data have concluded that language is becoming more democratic, as “even MPs fail to speak properly,” according to The Times. Their examples to support this view include Parliamentary debates including “gonna” and “could of”.

I have not been able to find the report they quote on-line, but I suspect this is an oversimplification.

In spite of the widely reported prevalence of former Eton pupils in the government, the concept that we should be ruled by our betters has been left behind many years ago.  If MPs are truly representatives of the population, why should we be surprised that they use the same vocabulary as the rest of us?

It is probably closer to the truth to explain this with two factors. Society has become less formal, and we all have more to cram into the day than in the past.

Unfortunately only one of those changes is for the better.

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About The Proof Angel

I am a freelance editor and proofreader, working with a wide range of clients from large companies to individuals. I can help you to communicate clearly by carrying out a final check, or by suggesting ideas get your message over. I also have a sideline in textiles, as The Rainbow Angel.
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