Month: April 2010

Evolution of the English Language

Posted April 22, 2010 by Michael Kitto in Linguistics / 0 Comments

Recently I wrote an entry about pop culture destroying literature and in one comment it was mentioned the beautiful language the classics were written in. This got me thinking; why did the English language have to evolve?

I did some research on the topic, beginning with the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons’ language was already a blend of dialects from West Germanic tribes. Add some dialects from the Norse, Frisian and the Dutch and you start to see the English language form. Now skipping all the history lessons of basically everyone invading England and leaving their make on the English language, you begin to form what is now known as Old English.

This is where it begins to get tricky and hard to follow, so stick with me while I try to explain the old English to modern English transition. From what I can tell Old English pronounced P, b, t, d, m, n, l, and r as we do today but rarely use letters like k, q, v, x, and z, then you have non-modern letters like thorn (þ) and eth (ð).

The period between 1150 and 1475, there were three major dialects of Middle English; Northern (Northumberland), Midlands (Mercia) and Southern (Wessex). From what I can work out, Modern English was like a major merger between the three dialects.

This began the basics of what we call the Modern English language. One of the biggest reasons behind the evolution of language is pronunciation. Words were pronounced vastly different in a lot of cases to their modern pronunciation. Over the years it continued to evolve with influences from Latin, Greek, French, etc. Later on during conflicts with the French, the English dropped the letter u in words ending –our. Though the English picked this practice back up later, the Americans never did (this is why Americans can’t spell).

The 19th Century is where I would have liked the evolution of the English language to stop, but unfortunately it continues. Now the English language has come to a point of dropping letters for ‘IM English’. I hope this won’t be the next evolution in English, but it looks like it is moving that way.

I would love to know what others think of the Evolution of the English Language, as well as what I may have missed.

For more information about the history of the English language in America, a friend recommended a book called Made in America by Bill Bryson. Bill Bryson’s book explores the history of the English language in the United States and the evolution of American culture.


IO9’s 20 Science Fiction Novels That Will Change Your Life

Posted April 15, 2010 by Michael Kitto in Listology / 0 Comments

I just stumbled across a list of 20 Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life on the io9 blog. While I haven’t read all the books there are some great choices there and I thought I should share it with my readers as well. Whether you agree or not, this is an interesting list;

  1. Frankenstein (1818), by Mary Shelley
  2. The Time Machine (1895), by H.G. Wells
  3. At the Mountains of Madness (1931), by H.P. Lovecraft
  4. I, Robot (1955), by Isaac Asimov
  5. The Dispossessed (1974), by Ursula LeGuin
  6. Kindred (1979), by Octavia Butler
  7. Wizard (1979), by John Varley
  8. Consider Phlebas (1987), by Iain M. Banks
  9. He, She, and It (1991), by Marge Piercy
  10. Sarah Canary (1991), by Karen Joy Fowler
  11. A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), by Vernor Vinge
  12. The Bohr Maker (1995), by Linda Nagata
  13. The Sparrow (1996), by Mary Doria Russell
  14. Cryptonomicon (2000), by Neal Stephenson
  15. The Mount (2002), by Carol Emschwiller
  16. Perdido Street Station (2002), by China Mieville
  17. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), by Cory Doctorow
  18. Pattern Recognition (2003), by William Gibson
  19. Newton’s Wake (2004), by Ken MacLeod
  20. Glasshouse (2006), by Charles Stross

For those of you not familiar with io9, it’s a blog part of the gawker network that focuses on the subjects of science fiction, futurism and advancements in the fields of science and technology.


Five Books That Changed My Life

Posted April 12, 2010 by Michael Kitto in Literature / 0 Comments

As most of you may know, I never use to be much of a reader; it was only last year that I decided to discipline myself to read more. So I thought I might as well share with you five books that really had strong effects on me and my views on life.

  • Markheim – This short story by Robert Louis Stevenson is definitely my favourite of his works I’ve read so far. The concept is amazing, but I won’t give you any spoilers.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five – And so it goes…nothing could have prepared me for a book like this. It’s unique in its style and left me pondering it for months after reading it.
  • Wuthering Heights – I know one reader that would be happy to see this on my list. The reason it does grace this list is the simple fact, that it defied all expectations. I went into this book thinking I knew what the story was about, but it shattered every expectation and left me with a dark and beautiful tale.
  • Frankenstein – It is apparent that this book has changed my life. I’ve mentioned it before in reference to pop culture and even a Smashing Pumpkins song. This book is simply a brilliant book on very real social issues.
  • Hey! Nietzsche! Leave them kids alone! – This book is the reason this blog exists. Craig Schuftan opened my eyes to a world I didn’t know by providing some interesting connections between the Romantic Period and today’s music scene.

Write What You Know?

Posted April 8, 2010 by Michael Kitto in Writing / 0 Comments

People say to write what you know, but what if your life is boring? Or what if the only think in your life that is interesting enough to write is an emotional and heart wrenching topic? This is something I’ve was thinking about all night last night. I know writing is a painful and emotional process for me, but as a writer am I willing to open old wounds and real live past mistakes and heart aches just to write a story?

The question is; should you write what you know if what you know is to painful to write about?


Did Pop Culture Destroy Literature?

Posted April 8, 2010 by Michael Kitto in Culture, Literature / 0 Comments

Isn’t it interesting that in pop culture, we think we know icons like Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. We know their basic story but until we read the books that made these characters famous, and then we realise that we have missed so much of the concepts and story.

Frankenstein is referenced  in countless  movies but ia most commonly associated with the monster, not the doctor. It’s just a tale of a monster terrorising the villages and  until you read the book you don’t understand it at all. I remember reading Frankenstein for the first time and discovering this isn’t a book about a monster.  This is a book about society and how we judge and treat people.

When it comes to Dracula, we all know the story of the Vampire, Count Dracula from Transylvania, but we don’t have a clue on just how interestingly the book was written. I went into the book thinking I was going to be reading a novel, but I discovered a series of letters, diary entries and ship logs that told this story in such an unsuspecting way.

Now unfortunately pop culture has ruined the plot of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but it has left out a lot of the interesting concepts. The book explores the idea of separating the Good from the Evil in the doctor, who was trying to explore the evil inside of himself and still live with his conscience clear. Or maybe it’s a story about living life with split personalities.   There are so many interpretations, but all in all its a book about the duality of human nature.  Pop Culture just tells a story of a doctor discovering this potion by accident.

The interesting thing is that no one really knows where Mr Hyde goes all those nights and what he does. This has lead to many of conversations through the ages trying to work out what Mr Hyde was up to; Some say it’s a metaphor for Homosexuality but I believe it’s open for personal interpretation. So the reader can make his own discovery on their evil side.