Here is a great story although not sure exactly what it tells us of modern times, in a linguistic sense. Have you heard of the Queen’s English Society? It’s intention is essentially to keep the language pure in a somewhat conservative and occasionally controversial way. Easy to make fun of on one level but I find their guides to punctuation actually quite clear and occasionally useful. The story, however, is that the society is folding: it has been killed off by twitter the papers claim. This, I suspect, is more to make headlines than a realistic analysis of the society’s demise. You only have to look at David Crystal’s blog to get a glimpse into how vibrant a language can be, or perhaps, as clearly demonstrated by English, has to be in order to survive, develop and expand. English has being doing that for centuries so any attempt to hold it back had to fail perhaps. I don’t think it is all down to twitter: people have been writing notes and puns in 140 characters for a long time! It has much more to do with English expanding around the world and allowing no boundaries to hold it back. This is English as a Lingua Franca … if not the barbarians maybe the elves are pounding at the gate!
One version of the story is here: http://tinyurl.com/7ztbkoy
As an interesting counter-point El Pais has an article today on how Facebook and other social networks are showing the first signs of slowing down with people beginning to spend less time on them. Will that have an impact on language? Will we all cease to speak if we haven’t Facebook? Don’t think so. Don’t think the fate of languages are decided yet by social networks.