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  • Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

  • Neil: And I'm Neil.

  • So Alice, can you think of an example of how the English we speak is changing?

  • Alice: Yes, I can.

  • Teenagers saying 'like' all the time.

  • Neil: Oh, that's, like, really like annoying, like?

  • Alice: Well, the subject of today's show is how and why the English language is changing.

  • And teenagers definitely have their own code

  • including text speak when they're on the internet or using their phones.

  • Fomo, bae, plos

  • do you have any idea what those terms mean, Neil?

  • Neil: I've got no idea what you're talking about, Alice.

  • They're pretty bafflingand that means 'hard to understand'.

  • But that's the idea, isn't it? We oldies aren't supposed to understand!

  • Alice: Yes, exactly! Apparently, 'plos' means 'parents looking over shoulder'

  • which proves your point!

  • Text speak is a lot to do with inventing cool new termsand these change quickly.

  • In a year, or even six months time, words that were once popular, have disappeared completely.

  • Neil: OK, I have a quiz question forming in my mind, Alice

  • so I hope you're feeling up to the challenge, Alice.

  • Can you tell me, what kinds of words are slow to change?

  • Is it... a) nouns? b) pronouns?

  • Or c) adjectives?

  • Alice: I think it's a) nouns.

  • The way we name things probably doesn't change that quickly.

  • Neil: We shall find out if you are right or wrong later on in the show.

  • But let's think about English grammar for a minute, and what changes are occurring here.

  • Alice: I noticed you said 'shall' there, Neil.

  • And to my ear, that sounds pretty old fashioned.

  • Neil: And you're very right, Alice.

  • The modal verb 'shall' is on the way outmeaning it's disappearing.

  • Why do you think that is?

  • Alice: Well, perhaps it's because 'will' sounds more natural these days.

  • Let's listen to linguist Bas Aarts,

  • talking to writer and presenter, Michael Rosen on the BBC Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth, for his explanation.

  • Michael Rosen: Why would we lose 'shall'?

  • I mean, if especially as we hold it in the interrogative.

  • We say, you know, 'Shall we go swimming'?

  • Bas Aarts: Well, because it's in competition with 'will'.

  • If you have two words that more or less express the same meaning,

  • one of the two is going to be pushed out of the language.

  • And in this case, it's 'shall'.

  • Neil: Bas Aarts there. And interrogative means 'a question'.

  • So it's not just in nature that we get survival of the fittestyou know,

  • the struggle for lifeit happens in language too.

  • Similar words are competing with each other, and some lose while others win out

  • or succeed after a fight.

  • Do you know of any other modal verbs that are on their way out, Alice?

  • Alice: Yes – 'must' is declining rapidly.

  • Neil: Why's that?

  • Alice: Well... 'Must' sounds authoritarian, and people are choosing to express obligation

  • or having a duty to do somethingin different ways.

  • Neil: OK, authoritarian means 'demanding that people obey you'.

  • For example: Alice, you must move on to the next point, now!

  • Alice: Oh, you scared me a bit there, Neil!

  • Neil: Exactly. I can see why people are shying away fromor avoiding – 'must'.

  • It sounds nicer to soften obligation by saying things like,

  • 'You might want to move on to the next point now, Alice.'

  • Alice: OK, then, I shall.

  • Let's talk about tenses.

  • Progressive tensesformed from the verb be and the suffixingare usually used for ongoing situations,

  • for example, 'I'm doing the show with Neil at the moment'.

  • But its use has been increasing rapidly.

  • Let's listen to Michael Rosen and Bas Aarts again talking about this.

  • BA: It started increasing dramatically in the 19th century

  • and has continued to rise in the present day.

  • MR: I think that's a cue for me to say, 'I'm loving it', is that right?

  • BA: Well, that is one of the constructions that is coming in,

  • I mean, I sometimes call it the Big Mac progressive because of course McDonald's use that.

  • Neil: In this segment of the BBC Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth,

  • Michael Rosen quotes the progressive form 'I'm loving it'

  • a slogan used by an American fast-food chain in its advertising campaign.

  • Alice: The verb 'love' is a stative verb.

  • It expresses a state of being

  • as opposed to doing

  • and is traditionally used in the simple form, for example, 'I love it'.

  • But these days, people are using stative verbs in the progressive more and more.

  • Neil: I'm hearing what you're saying, Alice!

  • Now, I think it's time for the answer to today's quiz question.

  • I asked you: What kinds of words are slow to change?

  • Is it... a) nouns, b) pronouns or c) adjectives?

  • Alice: I said a) nouns.

  • Neil: And you were wrong, Alice!

  • According to Professor Mark Pagel, evolutionary biologist at Reading University in the UK,

  • pronouns like 'I' and 'you' and 'we' evolve slowly

  • a thousand years ago we would be using similar or sometimes identical sounds.

  • Similarly, number words evolve very slowly

  • our ancestors were using related sounds a thousand or perhaps even two thousand years ago.

  • Whereas nouns and adjectives get replaced quite rapidly

  • and in five hundred years or so we'll probably be using different words to the ones we use now.

  • Alice: Well, I got that completely wrong then!

  • Who knew that one, two, three would have such staying power?

  • Neil: I suppose numbers are pretty fundamental to our day-to-day lives

  • sort of part of who we are.

  • Alice: OK, let's hear the - hopefully - more permanent words we learned today.

  • Neil: There were:

  • baffling

  • on the way out

  • interrogative

  • win out

  • obligation

  • authoritarian

  • shying away from

  • progressive

  • stative

  • Alice: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English.

  • To recap, we're enjoying the progressive tense.

  • Neil: And we're loving 'will' and 'should', but avoiding 'shall' and 'must'.

  • Don't forget to join us again soon!

  • Both: Bye!

Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

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A2 UK TOEIC alice rosen progressive hall authoritarian

BBC 6 Minute English August 04, 2016 - Is English changing?

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/08/14
Video vocabulary