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Ralph Fiennes: Twitter is Killing the English Language

Foolish actor, it wasn’t Twitter.

It was cell phone text messaging, and it happened a long, long time ago.

Speaking at the BFI London Film Festival awards in Old Street, London, the actor said that modern language “is being eroded” and blamed “a world of truncated sentences, soundbites and Twitter.”

“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, full name Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, said that students at drama schools were especially suffering thanks to social networking sites.

“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.”

The actor’s directorial debut, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, premiered at the London Film Festival this week. Fiennes questioned whether the playwright was even relevant 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 langyuage, 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 favour 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.

 

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