Sunday, November 4, 2012

English is changing

This year, I teach Language Arts (English), Life Skills, and the Senior Seminar in addition to Spanish. This has given me an opportunity to see our students writing in English. While it is nice to be able to see a visible change in students work thanks to my efforts, I would rather not have to do this much work. That is to say, these students are not good writers, especially in terms of spelling and punctuation.
But, as a linguist, I can also respect that my students will define the future of our language and that, in the end, many of their habits will become the new norm. Here are a few of my predictions based on their writing.

1. Either periods or capitalization will disappear. Maybe both. I'm leaning towards the demise of periods, though.
2. Speaking of capitalization, "I" isn't going to stay capitalized for very long.
3. "A lot" will become one word.
4. Something drastic is going to happen with our spelling. While I completely agree that the internet and widespread access to technology (and the accompanying auto-correct tools) has standardized language, it also means that kids do not know how to spell for themselves. I see orthographic changes happening in the written informal writing of English, French and Spanish.
5. Contractions are losing their punctuation. I doubt that there will be a written difference between "its" and "it's" or that the contraction of "I am" will keep the apostrophe.
6. The use of commas is changing. I don't quite understand it fully, but I think that it is being used anywhere where there should be a break but the author isn't ready to end the idea.
7. Homophones' spelling will merge. I see "I ate there, two," and "Are you going to?" a good bit. It throws me off guard every time, but the kids read over it without pause.

What do you think, fellow English teachers? What did I miss?

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