Thursday, August 23, 2007

In the future, will we all speak like Jean Luc Picard?

I admit to being a Star Trek fan and, although I am not one to dress up as Mr. Spock and attend festivals and conventions, I have watched some of the episodes so many times I can quote the script in my sleep.

I'll also admit that while Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were my heroes at one point in my life, I was later smitten by Captain Jean Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise - Next Gen.

One of the things I loved and love about Star Trek, were the writers' interpretations of the future. Granted, some of the stuff written for the 1960 TV show, and even the early Star Trek movies, were a bit quaint, but some of the stuff in the Next Generation series was and is pretty cool.
Over the years, reality has attempted to mirror fiction, or science fiction, as various products, particularly electronic gadgets, have hit the market. I know for a fact that the "clam shell" or "flip phone" style of cell phone is directly related to the "communicator" used by Spock and Kirk. There are loads of products whose names are derived from Trekian science. Have you ever wondered if there is really plasma in your plasma widescreen HDTV?

One of the other things I loved was the Star Trek writers projections of the Utopian future where we all live in peace, do not require money, and have all of our needs met. This, of course, only occurs if you are a member of "The Federation."
And, of course everyone in the 24th Century is brilliant, articulate, and extremely well educated - well at least the people serving on the Starship Enterprise. Goodness, even the lowly Klingon, Lt. Worf speaks better English than most people in 21st Century America.

But, for some time I have been thinking that the real people of the 24th Century may not be "talkin' too good." If we simply look at how the quality of discourse has eroded in the past 150 years, we can easily project that by the end of the 21st Century people will simply grunt at each other much the way they do in "rap music."

So here is some new evidence that the future may be even more bleak. This article in the Wall Street Journal details a phenomenon call "Leetspeak" the gibberish our cell phone addicted young people seem to communicate with. And, it has also got linguists apparently concerned.
So, to answer my own question about the future, will we all speak like Jean Luc Picard?
Probably not.

Well, I gotta go, my cell phone is ringing.
Oh yeah, and live long and prosper!


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