It's no secret that millennials have changed the English language in more than a few ways. Chat speak, emojis and slang have been on the rise for years; they've been weaseled into everyday use. Some of these changes, to the chagrin of others, have even managed to make their way into the dictionary!
Surprisingly, it isn't just our high school English teachers that are getting worked up over our dangling participles and passive voices. Anyone who has used the Internet has, at one point or another, dealt with a self-proclaimed "grammar Nazi," i.e., someone dedicated to making sure that everyone sticks to the rules of grammar. You may even be a grammar Nazi yourself.
Language is used every minute of every day. It's something that we don't think about very much — or at least not consciously. Are grammar Nazis right in their crusade against the way millennials use language? Are young people truly ruining English?
Would you be surprised to hear that grammar Nazis existed all the way back in the 18th century? Under the official term of "prescriptivists," language purists did everything they could to "improve" the English language according to their own opinions. Just as people today view changes in English as deterioration, people hundreds of years ago fought valiantly to prevent words like "lented" from entering common speech. So, in light of that, millennials can't be blamed for the "downfall of the English language."
Despite the passage of time, people have always tried to stop language from changing, and they've always blamed each other for the changes. Sure, grammar and spelling are needed so that a person is understood, but prescriptivists and grammar Nazis take things to a different level.
In the future, if you receive a text with "ain't" or "y'all" or some other grammatical offense, take a moment to consider the history of language and its changes. The English language has withstood more than a few major shifts over time, so tweeting in emojis isn't going to be the cause of our lingual ruin.