20 agosto 2010

I wrote 2U B4! British Library shows up textspeak as soooo 19th century


New exhibition features Victorian poems written like text messages, the rise of RP, and battles over the letter H

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

guardian.co.uk

A typical text message on a mobile phone. The British Library has unearthed examples of 19th century language using text msg abbreviation. GR8!

If u really r annoyed by the vocabulary of the text generation, then a new exhibition at the British Library should calm you down. It turns out they were doing it in the 19th century – only then they called it emblematic poetry, and it was considered terribly clever.
Details were announced today of the library's new exhibition devoted to the English language, exploring its 1,500-year history from Anglo-Saxon runes and early dictionaries to not dropping your Hs and rap.
The exhibition will open this winter after three years of planning.
One of the stars of the show will be the oldest surviving copy of Beowulf, the longest epic poem in Old English, which was written down at least 1000 years ago. There will also be the first book ever printed in English, which, reassuringly perhaps, has inconsistent spelling. The French are both "frensshe" and "frenshe" in Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, published by William Caxton in Flanders around 1473.
Roger Walshe, the British Library's head of learning, said it had been "a hugely ambitious project for us, but a hugely enjoyable one as well". He added: "There is always interest in language and there are always debates about whether language is changing or declining or improving and also what is influencing language. We felt we were uniquely placed to be able to give a historical perspective to that debate."