To Like, You know, speak with Authority (?)

The basis of my next revelation nests on one of the greatest mysteries and achievements of the human brain, which is its ability to organise vocal sounds into words and words into meaningful sentences. Approaches to the origin of language have been divided according to their underlying assumptions — many who have studied it have thought language as related to Darwin’s evolution theories, they believe that language is so complex that one cannot imagine it simply appearing from nothing in its final form: it must have evolved from earlier pre-linguistic systems among our primate ancestors.

But for someone like myself, who spends a good portion of her free time reading Discontinuity theories — I sometimes can’t help but wonder that something so unique a trait as language, that cannot be compared to anything found among non-humans, must have appeared fairly suddenly during the course of human evolution. A single chance mutation could have occurred in the cortical area of one individual some million years ago, and possibly triggered the development of this innate faculty that is largely genetically encoded. And Boom! it became a trait that could be learned through social interaction. When and how the special talent of language developed is impossible to say. The Linguistic Society of Paris went so far as to ban debates on the subject in the mid 1800s – mostly to stop scholars from going mad. Since the time the very first word was uttered, hundreds of languages were created and mastered, several morphed into one another and many others vanished with changing times.

The progression of the English language (or any other language for that matter) has peaked some hundred years ago, and since then been on an exponential downgrade. The glossary of words in any language reached its pinnacle right around the time some of its greatest writers came to be. It was this allegorical era where human discourse was at its height of sophistication, where the pen literally was mightier than the sword, and where every thought was articulated at its best, be it through prose or composition.

Compare that with today’s jibber jabber, and we will find ourselves resembling Thomas Moore’s worst nightmare – or to state it simply in Taylor Mail’s words, “we have become the most aggressively inarticulate generation in a very long time”. It has somehow become uncool to sound like you know what you’re talking about. Every second sentence is punctuated with a ‘like’ or an ‘ummm’, and invisible question marks and parenthetical ‘you know’ accompany even the most formal of conversations. It is our lack of patience that has contributed to marvellous inventions in technology and super speedy services, but it is also our lack of patience that has contributed to the dawn of the dreaded acronyms. It is always a fine day when your social media feed do not choke with misspelled words, excessive use of improper grammar, and individuals ‘Laughing Out Loud’.

I think the problem with our generation is, too often than not, we are looking for ways to make life simpler for ourselves. While it does remove a cosmic amount of inefficiency, it also strips us down of the splendour of fastidious articulation, and elementary neuronal aptitude. We have sacrificed the style and sophistication that we can elude via our vocal chords – and consequently display a generation that is tired (of life; for if you are tired of style, you are tired of life).

And to reiterate the words of my dear friend Taylor, — I implore you to speak with conviction. To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it. Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to simply question authority – you have to speak with it too.

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