I love language because it’s a living thing. It adapts to its surroundings, it’s malleable, it’s vibrant and also sometimes beautifully elusive. Language isn’t static or cold; it has a life all its own.
Yet, I admit there are some twists and turns of the English language that give me shivers. From hearing ‘innit’ as a universal question tag in my East London neighbourhood (We’re friends, innit?) to reading the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of 2009 (the verb, to unfriend).
Part of me recognises that as the world around us changes, logically it moulds language into different forms. The daily influence social networking sites have on most of us is just one example of this, and also perhaps one of the more powerful ones at the moment on the English language (without the impact of Facebook, the word of the year would certainly have been another word).
Honestly though, I’m hoping that ‘unfriend’ has the same longevity as its most recent predecessors. I’ve never heard anyone use 2008’s ‘hypermiling’ (making adjustments to one’s car or one’s driving techniques to maximise fuel-consumption) nor the word of 2007: ‘locavore’ (someone who buys from farmers’ markets or grows their own produce to be more environmentally friendly). Let’s hope this trend continues!