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Full Version: On listening to David Vann
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just mercedes

The writer reads
from Beowulf; archaic words
take up their sounds and fly
off the page; first time, for me.
 
A thousand-year-ago invasion
shows in the long Germanic vowels,
language as war spoil, class marker.
 
Fascination with this text
begins to make sense.
It shows the effects of technology
on language.
 
Thoughts are interrupted by vibration
from my neighbour’s mobile phone’s
silent tone pulsation;
as his thumbs button-dance
‘wuv u’ appears as text.
 
Will txt spk be seen, next millennium,
as an indication of another way
technology refreshed language?
Or one way it destroyed? Will all
vowels come to the schwa, eventually?
 
I məst stədy ləngəstəcs nəxt.
"technology refreshed language?"

"Changed" is the word I'd use. We're part of the yet next Beowulfian eon.
The concept of "progress" in language is like the concept of progress in evolution.
If you follow that line of reasoning you end up with humans being the "crown of creation".
Shear fucking hubris. Wanting to participate in the "supreme special moment of history"
is fun, enjoyable, and just that: wanting. Hopes and prayers and wishing for wishes
to come true is an enjoyable (or terrifying) experience. Language -- human communication --
on the other hand just keeps flowing on, same river twice kind of a thing.

Those abbreviations that came about by us being constrained to using two opposable thumbs
are bits of dust. A few will be absorbed into our language, most won't. All those thumbs-only
keyboards are evaporating, replaced by microphones and voice-to-text apps. "Uh"'s and homonyms
and acres of dithering-about-forged-into-text are our future -- brave-new-world version 1,000,042.