There are a lot of weblogs out there that are focused entirely on helping people keep … weblogs. How to maintain a blog, how to write an article, how to promote what you’re doing so you get more visitors. I don’t often take the time to keep up with this particular kind of blog, but then somebody sent me a link to a post. The evocative title: Are bloggers and blogs ruining the English language?
What irritates me about this kind of discussion is the failure to distinguish between (a) written and spoken language; (b) grammar and punctuation; and (c) form and function.
A. The tyranny of the written word is such that we give it authority over the spoken language. Which is, if you think about it, not very logical. We write things that tax our ability to remember, or to project our thoughts through time and space. We speak everything else. But (I hear you ask) aren’t they the same thing, just as water is water whether it flows, or freezes so that we can walk on it? Isn’t it just a matter of presentation? Can’t speech and writing be treated as different manifestations of the same mental phenomenon? Wouldn’t spoken language be more efficient if we treated it like written language?