What do words like cognoscenta and volte-face have in common?
Allowing that the first of these has a seemingly unrecognized end spelling issue (presumably should end in i or e), these are both rather uncommon words I have found in re-reading a book by sci-fi master John Wyndham, perhaps best known as author of “The Day of the Triffids”. His writings stem from the middle of the last century, so he may be excused for using a little older, ornate language, but it is certainly not arcane.
Yet how many of us today would recognize these words, which in fact mean largely what one might deduce from looking at their composite syllables. Perhaps these are not a great challenge to etymologists, but they remind us of the diversity of language. Therefore, reading – seemingly becoming a lost art for increasing numbers of the populace – remains a force for not only ideas but also a great source for words to express them.
The really sad fact, though, is that now, well into the second decade of the 21st century, the expression of almost any combination of actual words seems superfluous to much of the younger population. At least this applies to communication which is not direct. Many of the mobile device generation are more comfortable with messaging via pictorial symbols.
For those of us not of the constantly social media connected generation(s), the use of symbols to emphasize written communication has largely depended on what found on our keyboard, or (yikes?!) typewriter. If we would be looking to add an element of emotion, it would usually be expressed via these options.
However, those part of the constantly connected generation(s), including my own adult sons, appear to lean toward the expanded universe of pictorial symbols. (I, for one, did not realize how much has been cloned from the early days of the ‘happy face’.)
According to the website ieoji.com, there are literally hundreds of paste-enabled, mini-icons in each of seven categories, including people, places, objects, etc. They’re available to be downloaded in apps such as Twitter. On that site there is also capacity to generate a message, using the ieoji.com symbols. For when needed, there is an instant link to screen displays of their meanings.
No wonder that committed users of the new technology, clearly grown accustomed to less personal means of communication, are sending messages which may have minimal words accompanying such pictures. (I’m aware of a family member so engaged.)
In that slant, it’s like the advancement of technology has reformed communication, so it is reverting, at least for some, into a form of sign language. This might be considered reverse evolution. If so, what a sign of the times!