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Posted by R. Berg on June 26, 2001

In Reply to: Do I love English, or am I just Luddite? posted by Patty on June 26, 2001

: : : : Well, all you fellow relishers of the English language... Anybody got a good idea of what is likely to happen with post-literacy? What will happen to the rich heritage of English words, phrases, expressions, metaphors, similes, maxims, and so on.... now that our kids are entranced by computer graphics, video games, television, "awesome" special-effects movies, techno & hip-hop CDs...?

: : : : And is our world going all electrons & silicon, and forgetting the fragrance of flowers, the buzzing of bees, the croaking of frogs, the freshness of sweet air, the swiftness of the fox, love in May, the rightness of rain? What might *that* mean for language? - Patty

: : : I know exactly what you mean. But it is up to us - the grownups - to see that young people don't miss out on the joys of reading and playing outside. Despite computers, TV, etc., the children in my family still like books. My children, nieces and nephews, and now their children, are readers. I personally see to it. When each child is born, I start his or her library. When my children were small, I made sure they played outside. Children don't get nearly enough outdoors time (School recesses here in my part of the U.S. are either brief or nonexistent). There was a move afoot to make school year-round here. I made an impassioned plea before the school board (and was quoted in the paper) saying, "We need all the summer we can get." We won that fight. We still have summer.

: : I don't see a uniform downward trend. National spelling bees still make the news--and with more-obscure words than I encountered in school. Not all children were in love with language in past generations, either, only some.

: Gee, did I feel embarrassed to have spelled *English* "Enlish" in what I wanted to be the post title?! Then I messed it up in another way: getting my name in the thread title, and post-title where my name should be! Apologies. I do love English, folk wisdom, history, and so forth. Maybe I don't love technology quite as much. Am I just narcissistic in feeling put off by the post-literate trend? - Patty

You're the best person here to answer that question, but the trend is broader than that: it's a postcognitive trend. On a website devoted to the old radio comedy "Fibber McGee and Molly," I was looking at scripts and listening to tapes of the show from the 1940s and 1950s. They include the commercials, which differed strikingly from today's commercials in that they still appealed to reason. The announcer actually stated facts about the product.