Ralph Fiennes: Twitter Eroding English Language for Students

Speaking at the BFI London Film Festival awards in London, the ‘English Patient' actor Ralph Fiennes said that modern language "is being eroded" and blamed "a world of truncated sentences, soundbites and Twitter", writes Lucy Jones at the Telegraph.

"Our expressiveness and our ease with some words is being diluted so that the sentence with more than one clause is a problem for us, and the word of more than two syllables is a problem for us," he said.

Fiennes said that students at drama schools were among those that are especially suffering from the impact of social networking sites on our lives.

"I hear it, too, from people at drama schools, who say the younger intake find the density of a Shakespeare text a challenge in a way that, perhaps, (students) a few generations ago maybe wouldn't have."

Fiennes also questioned whether Shakespeare was even relevant at all in a time of dumbed-down English language.

He said:

"I think we're living in a time when our ears are attuned to a flattened and truncated sense of our English language, so this always begs the question, is Shakespeare relevant? But I love this language we have and what it can do, and aside from that I think the themese in his plays are always relevant."

Fiennes, who does not use Twitter, is not alone in his theory. JP Davidson, the author of Planet Word and a linguistic expert, talked this week about longer words dying out in favor of shortened text message-style terms.

He said: "You only have to look on Twitter to see evidence of the fact that a lot of English words that are used say in Shakespeare's plays or PG Wodehouse novels — both of them avid inventors of new words — are so little used that people don't even know what they mean now.

 "This could be viewed as regrettable, as there are some great descriptive words that are being lost and these words would make our everyday language much more colourful and fun if we were to use them.

"But it's only natural that with people trying to fit as much information in 140 characters that words are getting shortened and are even becoming redundant as a result."

Ralph Fiennes was speaking after he received the British Film Institute Fellowship at the BFI London Film Festival awards in Old Street.

10 31, 2011
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