It was forty minutes before sunrise, and I was about to leave the house to start my morning walk, when my partner suggested a podcast she had discovered. I hadn’t picked anything to listen to yet and so I downloaded the first two episodes of this podcast about the History of English. After an introduction, the host read a text in Modern English, Middle English, and Old English. Those three generations of English sounded very different. To my ears Middle English sounded a bit like Scottish and Old English sounded more like a Scandinavian language. I learned that the power of English lies in its huge vocabulary, the result of the absorption of many words from other languages. I find that this makes Brexit even more puzzling. Perhaps there was a precedent in how Japan adopted a policy to confine itself from the rest of the world, set up by the Tokugawa Shonugate in the 17th century?
After my walk I came across a tweet that quoted this article about a Missouri school district that revives paddling to discipline students. I replied Paddle revival… the desire to go backwards is strong. Hopefully this will lead to horse-drawn carriages soon. :-)
Will an aging population drag cultures backwards? People generally live longer than ever before – although there are exceptions like this: Life expectancy in the United States continued to fall in 2021 for the second year in a row to 76.1 years, the lowest since 1996, showed the report published by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) last week (link). Is it an aging population, and their fond memories of a fictitious past, or is it, perhaps, the contraction that inevitably follows any expansion.
Tempo dirá… time will tell. Tomorrow I will listen to more of the podcasts about the History of English.