Saturday, 2 July 2011

I spent most of yesterday reading

"legalese" - the sort of language lawyers use in an attempt to confuse everyone, including themselves. I had a headache by the time I had finished.
I could scarcely be bothered with the pieces of the paper I had not read and should read. There has been a recent change in editorial practice and the writing is worse than ever. There are also many more American words and phrases than before. I have seen both "Mom" for "Mum" or "mother" and "math" for "maths" or "mathematics" recently.
There are also more and more abbreviations creeping into mainstream writing. "His bio had everyone ROFL"? My father threw the paper down in disgust. He does not like "bio" and he had no idea what "ROFL" meant because he does not text, twitter or even type.
My father knows that language changes. Two years ago he bought a Macquarie dictionary for his own use. He thought he should have something which would include some of the new terms. He felt it should be Australian. His assessment of that dictionary - much praised by others - is scathing. He prefers to leave his desk and walk to the other end of the house to where my much used two volume Oxford is shelved. It is less convenient than having a dictionary on his desk but it is also more likely to give him the information he needs.
I own many other dictionaries, many of them dual language dictionaries in everything from Arabic to Welsh - no X, Y or Z so far. There are also medical, legal, architectural, engineering etc dictionaries. I often meet words I do not know. When that happens I will consult a dictionary. I then forget them again because they are not part of my education. My father rarely needs to know a word in anything other than English although he still remembers some Latin.
I also have a dictionary of abbreviations but my father refuses to use that. English, he says, should be written correctly in books and newspapers. Texting and tweeting may be used by the generations below him but he believes they still need to know how to use English.
I use some of the modern abbreviations but they do not have me "ROFL". I have never rolled on the floor and laughed anyway. There are more comfortable ways to laugh.