A Language Formerly Known As English

So the other day while I was waiting for my girlfriend at the mall I decided to kill some time by checking out what’s new at Zara. I walked in, browsed around with nothing really catching my eye…except for four loud teenagers.

Nevertheless, I picked up some clothes to try on and walked towards the trial rooms when one of the teenagers, a guy, walked out wearing a pair of shorts which were quite frankly comical! Two of his friends, girls, couldn’t contain their laughter but it was the other guy whose reaction I couldn’t get over. While the girls were in splits, he just stood there, a deadpan expression on his face and mumbled the words “LOL” three times.


I couldn’t stop staring at him after that. I am positive I heard him right. And honestly, I was a bit confused as to what I had just witnessed.

Let’s face it, the English language isn’t what it used to be 50 years ago. Heck, it is one language that has constantly evolved and been mutilated over the years like no other language.

The British left us with it and we’ve pretty much butchered it over the years. Did you know we Indians invented an English word? Yup, the word is “prepone“, and since it’s now officially recognised in India and I can’t keep correcting one billion people, I decided to hesitantly embrace the word myself.


Today, I literally put together a sentence, half Hindi-half English, while speaking to my friends and they understand me perfectly well. We’ve molded (“jugaadofied”) English to the way we are, our culture and our other languages. I guess the same applies if you speak American-English, or those dozen other versions of English that show up in Microsoft Word.

Coming back to my story of the four teenagers. The English language has evolved through the influences of the people, countries and cultures it has touched or been been touched upon by…and now we have a new culture. One of the internet. And this was the first time I heard a word from the internet culture slip into the real world, into English sort of. And quite frankly, it was really awkward.

But I guess that’s the direction this language is heading in now. Soon we’ll have critically acclaimed novels written in internet shorthand, “da undercver dawg” by @buddingauthor69, be tilting our heads to smile and naming our daughters “hashtag”. Oh wait, that already happened. Face it, we don’t speak the English spoken 50 years ago, and 50 years ago they didn’t speak the English 100 years ago. You get the drift.

So although this may seem like the path to the next stage in the evolution of English, I still couldn’t help but cringe when someone beside me kept saying “LOL” without actually laughing out loud. Or can one simply say LOL and not have to laugh anymore? Is that what it was…I’m confused now.

Devesh Sahai

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