If Mr Darwin is to be believed, we began the journey to intelligence by climbing down from the trees and trying out this marvellous new walking on two legs thing. Presumably we already had a rudimentary form of communications. It was probably more to do with gestures than sounds. Largely, I would imagine, it was to do with gaining food without becoming food. There may have been something to do with mating and reproduction in there somewhere.
Then over the years vocal communication evolved. It evolved differently in different places and times but, hey, it really is a kind of magic. A brain designed for little more than the processing of physical inputs and with instinctive built in subroutines that are still just about functioning today has discovered a way of expressing abstracts such as love and hate. Simple words when used correctly can override our intelligence and speak to the fear within us. Take the word Crypt. Nothing special. Add the words Cold, Damp and dark. Speak of shadows and movements within them, of scuttling of what can only be claws and we can evoke within a paragraph, the fear which lurks within us.
The instinct to mate has always been there, yet words have overlaid this instinct with layers of emotions which could not be conveyed any other way. We can talk of Philosophy, Art, Poetry and even tell each other stories. Stories contain history, both real and the folklore variety and can be handed from generation to generation.
This primitive brain produced the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Plato and so much more. OK it also produced ‘Finnegans wake’. I didn’t say it was perfect.
And now we see this wonderful gift being debased with worthless platitudes and text speak. I am sad that within a few generations we will be unable to produce any works worthy of the title ‘Classic’. Many people resemble our distant ancestors, primarily moved by basic instinct and emotion and only able to express them in a limited vocabulary, usually of obscenities.
How long before we allow this Magic ability to regress to that of these primitives and throw away this gift. Thankfully there are those who value words and aim to learn more each day. It’s the only way to ensure you can express yourself succinctly. Unfortunately it also means that many reading this would utter ‘Wot’ in puzzlement.