Evolving English

Went to an exhibition at the British Library yesterday – Evolving English: One language, many voices. Its free entry, running from 12 Nov 2010 to 3 April 2011 and is well worth a visit – was only meant to pop there for inspiration but 3 and a half hours later I emerged (there’s quite a bit of reading!).

It explores the English language in all of its national and international diversity – very educational, many important documents/books from first written ‘words’ to the first dictionary, from strict guides to ‘English’ to fun and playful poetry.

A few of my favourite, most notable or inspiring pieces were typographic poetic pieces, aka concrete poetry…

One’s I noted down were:

Message Clear by Edwin Morgan from Emergent Poems, Futura Vol.20 (Hansjorg Mayer, 1067)

Pieces by EE cummings:

Charles C Bombaugh’s Embelmatic Poetry:

A Poem from Gleanings From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, published in 1867, Essay to Miss Catherine Jay used ‘textype’ well before it’s time, 130 years to be precise!

Catherine Sinclair’s Picture Letters, 1863, combines images and text together in a fun and playful way:

Mixed writing systems use a variety of different mark to illustrate ideas and represent sounds by bending the rules of language.

My main interest that has sprung out is the complexity of the English language, how there as so many words yet so many words can mean even more many things…!? Also how it’s ever evolving and changing, it’s fascinating, you think language as being right or wrong, good or bad, but it isn’t so clear cut really.

Evolving English

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