Istoria limbii engleze în 10 minute (Capitolele VII – X)

Am ajuns la cea de a treia și ultima parte din seria ‘Istoria limbii engleze în zece minute’. Urmărește videoclipurile, ascultă explicațiile de la finalul fiecărui capitol și revino oricând la prima parte sau la a doua parte din această serie.

Materialul The History of English in Ten Minutes este realizat de The Open University.

Chapter VII
The Age of the Dictionary (or ‘The Definition of a Hopeless Task’)

With English expanding in all directions, along came a new breed of men called lexicographers, who wanted to put an end to this anarchy – a word they defined as ‘what happens when people spell words slightly differently from each other’.

One of the greatest was Doctor Johnson, whose ‘Dictionary of the English language’ took him 9 years to write. It was 18 inches tall and contained 42,773 entries – meaning that, even if you couldn’t read, it was still pretty useful if you wanted to reach a high shelf.

For the first time, when people were calling you ‘a pickle herring’, ‘a jobbernowl’ or ‘a fopdoodle’, you could understand exactly what they meant – and you’d have the consolation of knowing they were all using the standard spelling.

Try as he might to stop them, words kept being invented and, in 1857, a new book was started, that would become the Oxford English Dictionary. It took another 70 years to be finished after the first editor resigned to be an archbishop, the second died of TB and the third was so boring that half his volunteers quit and one of them ended up in an asylum.

It eventually appeared in 1928 and has continued to be revised ever since, proving the whole idea that you can stop people making up words is complete ‘snuffbumble’.

Traducere și explicații

Chapter VIII
American English (or ‘Not English, but Somewhere in the Ballpark’)

From the moment Brits first landed in America, they needed names for all the new plants and animals, so they borrowed words like ‘raccoon’, ‘squash’ and ‘moose’ from the Native Americans, as well as most of their territory.

Waves of immigrants fed America’s hunger for words. The Dutch came sharing ‘coleslaw’ and ‘cookies’ – probably as a result of their relaxed attitude to drugs. Later, the Germans arrived selling ‘pretzels’ from ‘delicatessens’ and the Italians arrived with their ‘pizza’, their ‘pasta’ and their ‘mafia’, just like mamma used to make.

America spread a new language of capitalism, getting everyone worried about the ‘breakeven’ and ‘the bottom line’ and whether they were ‘blue chip’ or ‘white collar’. The commuter needed a whole new system of ‘freeways’, ‘subways’ and ‘parking lots’ – and quickly, before words like ‘merger’ and ‘downsizing’ could be invented.

American English drifted back across the pond as Brits ‘got the hang of’ their ‘cool movies’, and their ‘groovy’ ‘jazz’. There were even some old forgotten English words that lived on in America. So they carried on using ‘fall’, ‘faucets’, ‘diapers’ and ‘candy’, while the Brits moved on to ‘autumn’, ‘taps’, ‘nappies’ and NHS dental care.

Traducere și explicații

Chapter IX
Internet English (or ‘Language Reverts to Type’)

In 1972, the first email was sent. Soon, the Internet arrived – a free global space to share information, ideas and amusing pictures of cats.

Before the Internet, English changed through people speaking it, but the net brought typing back into fashion and hundreds of cases of repetitive strain injury.

Nobody had ever had to ‘download’ anything before, let alone use a ‘toolbar’. And the only time someone set up a ‘firewall’, it ended with a massive insurance claim and a huge pile of charred wallpaper.

Conversations were getting shorter than the average attention span – why bother writing a sentence when an abbreviation would do and leave you more time to ‘blog’, ‘poke’ and ‘reboot’ when your ‘hard drive’ crashed?

‘In my humble opinion’ became ‘IMHO’, ‘by the way’ became ‘BTW’ and ‘if we’re honest, that life-threatening accident was pretty hilarious!’ simply became ‘fail’.

Some changes even passed into spoken English. ‘For your information’, people frequently ask questions like “how can ‘LOL’ mean ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘lots of love’?” But, if you’re going to complain about that, then UG2BK.

Traducere și explicații

Chapter X
Global English (or ‘Whose Language Is It Anyway?’)

In the 1500 years since the Romans left Britain, English has shown an unique ability to absorb, evolve, invade and, if we’re honest, steal. After foreign settlers got it started, it grew into a fully-fledged language all of its own, before leaving home and travelling the world, first via the high seas, then via the high speed broadband connection, pilfering words from over 350 languages and establishing itself as a global institution. All this despite a written alphabet that bears no correlation to how it sounds and a system of spelling that even Dan Brown couldn’t decipher.

Right now, around 1.5 billion people speak English. Of these, about a quarter are native speakers, a quarter speak it as their second language, and half are able to ask for directions to a swimming pool.

There’s Hinglish – which is Hindi-English, Chinglish – which is Chinese-English, and Singlish – which is Singaporean-English (and not that bit when they speak in musicals).

So, in conclusion, the language has got so little to do with England these days it may well be time to stop calling it ‘English’. But, if someone does think up a new name for it, it should probably be in Chinese.

Traducere și explicații

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