In her first Reith lecture, Professor Jean Aitchison explores whether our language really is in decay and argues that we need to understand language, not try to control it.
This year's Reith Lecturer is Jean Aitchison, a Professor of Language and Communication in the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.
In her first lecture, Professor Aitchison asks: Is our language sick? She explores what troubles us most about the way in which our language is changing, who is responsible, and what rules are being discarded. She considers why many of these rules were artificially constructed in the first place and argues that we need to understand language, not try to control it. Informal speech is not intrinsically worse than formal speech, she says, but different, and that the ever-shifting nature of language, is what keeps it flexible.
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