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Maria Cuahutle Senior Thesis

Maria Cuahutle

University of South Florida Graphic Design department Class of 2014 Copyright Š 2014 by Maria Cuahutle All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. First Printing: 2014 ISBN 000-1234-00-00 Maria SC Publishing Co. 8192 Winter Circle Far Far away, 86795


Not only does language always change, but if one is to believe the authorities, it always changes for the worse. All our languages are blurring into a monosyllabic soup, a sort of background hum, by the laziness of users.

Contents 5 Thesis: Brief 13 Part 1: The Verbal 23 Part 2: The Written 33 Part 3: An Outside Perspective


Hand lettering both publication cover and cover for piece number two.


Thesis: Brief


Change is universal. It’s a factor in life that spares no mercy to even language itself. There are countless generations that have tried to battle the changing tides, yearning for the golden age of language that used to be—but really, never was. Records exist dating as far back as the 1800s asking for a return to a former use of the English language, condemning the current as a degrading and decaying use of words. And it’s no hidden fact that a language evolves and renews itself according to social changes. But what’s evolved, thanks to the state of our culture, is sloppy language and a lack of care for the science of the English language itself. Its luster has dimmed. The command for the language that makes up the root of the nation’s culture is dwindleing. And while this may be the constant feeling that has been around for centuries, the current state of the English language is actually believed “endangered” now. We’ve all seen the contagious sentence fillers spread like viruses, dotting everyday


conversations with “uhm’s,” “likes” and “you know’s.” We’ve seen the simple statement mutate into a question: I’m sure? We’ve seen words completely warp meaning—Literally now has a double definition in the English dictionary that demotes it’s “literal” status into more of an “actually” or “kind of.” Ratchet has changed from being a physical tool to fasten bolts to an adverb, or adjective, describing tacky and distasteful scenarios and individuals. YOLO and twerk have polluted our everyday vernacular along with text-speak that leave most of us wondering what anyone is saying and as a society we deem this acceptable. Why are we allowing this to happen? Call it the diminishing interst of children who are lost to the glow of mind-rotting devices; technologies that will spread our americanisms onto the rest of the world like an infectious disease. Call it the culture that has lost its traditional value of caring for grammatical correctness in verbal conversations— just ax anyone. And careful on correcting someone on his or her misuse of the language, might you get called a grammar Nazi.

Thesis: Brief

Or call it laziness and ambiguity that has spread relentlessly. The bottom line is that we are losing our way of communicating. We seem to take English, this global communication tool that holds such power and value, for granted. We allow it to seamlessly spiral down toward an almost illiterate path. And a language of such importance can’t afford to be littered with “illiteracy,” both in the verbal and writtern manner. This is what I choose to shed some light on. What I want to bring awareness to. I’m not battling change; I’m battling the indifference and laziness that is giving new rise to the language evolution of carelessness. But like, why should we care. It’s only language.


If we don’t stick to a few rules, we won’t know what we’re saying at all. We might as well be vomiting at one another.


Part 1: The Verbal

Part 1 The Verbal

The English language has gone through several changes liguistically. The lingo of today has modernized in ways unseen before, thanks to the digital age and the prominence of internet culture. Accronims and half sentences have swarmed mainstream communication. Complete thoughts aren’t needed to fully translate meaning into speech. A simple “I can’t..” can comunicate so much on its own. But what does this half baked morphed communication leave us when we’re not the ones in the loop of this lingo. What does it leave us with when it comes to understanding one another? The known ways of communication have morphed into digitally influenced jargon, giving way to a verbal devolution of the English Language. By translating diction from the 20s into verbal expressions of modern English I call this change into question.


Observations One main cause that allows the English language to run rampid with americanisms full of internet slang is that people have stoped caring. Bluntly stated, people don’t give a shit about having well crafted verbal interactions. There’s great value in constructing well thought out sentences in order to be understood. There’s great value in the command of language. Yet the constant coloquialism of pop culture is giving way to a disintresst in this art that is the English language. People have taken to implementing text speak and internet slang on a daily basis: verbally using the word “hashtag” as well as doge speak and acronyms that were previously only seen on cellphone screens. And due to this, there’s a loss in the passing of information. See, it’s not only a phenomenon that is spreading among the youth but also a trend that’s infecting the older generation who are trying to stay “hip” with todays lingo.

Part 1: The Verbal

Process Using the short poem “Death by Water,� by T.S Elliot as my base text, I modernised its use of English into the linguistic style that is trending in mainstream culture. I then animated this translation using Adobe After Effects.


Part 1: The Verbal


Phlebas the Phoenician, A fortnight dead, Forgot the cry of gulls, And the deep seas swell And the profit and loss. A current under sea. Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell He passed the stages of his age and youth. Entering the whirlpool. Gentile or Jew O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.


Voice narration by: Alexa Burch

Part 1: The Verbal

T.S. ELIOTT THE WASTELAND IV. DEATH BY WATER modernized Phlebas the Phonician; A fortnight dead, He forgot the cry of gulls, And like, the deep sea swell And the profit and loss, ya know? He don’t have to worry bout makin’ that guap. & the ocean n fish picked his bones clean Hashtag, is this real life? Cause I can’t even So if you vibin and stuntin’ Don’t act like a fool,take another shot & pour one out for this dude. Hashtag all the feels. Hashtag, much end.



The lack of ability to write with a pen or pencil, with the inevitable lack of tech for the poorer citizens, will result in a new illiteracy.


Part 2- The Written

Part 2 The Written

The degeneration of the English language is communicated not only verbally, but physically as well. Through the use of verbal means of communication, information is handed down in a deep rooted cultural tradition, which translates into a written form of expression. This is how information has been passed down for centuries and through countless generations. The art of penmanship was once a well crafted skill but with the new advances in technology and the increasing implementation of computer resources in classrooms, there’s a diminishing value in the written part of communication. Where as the first piece is the verbal quality of english, this piece is the written form. For example, manuscript from elders was meticulous and well thought out. Communication traveled through letters and every stroke of the pen counted, but now, due to the growth of technology, this practice has dwindled and lost the value it once held.


Part 2- The Written


This second section focuses on the progressive change of penmanship across different generations, showing the dying care toward the English language in its written form. I collected writting samples from different age groups that encompassed highschool to elder adults. I scanned the samples and cleaned them up digitally using Adobe Photoshop and compiled them together into a hand bound accordion book.


Obtaining writting samples from the highschool age demographic was a little bit of a challenge. I’d like to thank Tiffany Carr for being able to help out with this part, as well as Callie Taylor, and Leanna Nikole Flores.



Whoever has the greatest command of the language, holds the power


Part 3- An Outside Perspective

Part 3 An outside Perspective

Language has always interested me– the english language, more specifically, since learning it at a young age when I moved to the US from Mexico. I’ve grown to speak it more fluently and proficiently than a lot of native speakers I know, even though it’s not my native language. And this is a pattern I’ve noticed with other friends of mine whose first language is not English. I had friends from Mexico and one from Bulgaria who learned the language as a second language who surpass the level English of many of their peers. A more recent observation happened while I was abroad in Belgium this past fall, and met a few students who spoke English in an impressively fluent manner. One of the girls I met was self taught, had relatively few English classes and learned everything she knows from television and the internet. She shared how she would often correct her English teacher when she was taking some language classes and when she chose to test out of the classes permanently- she and her teacher were to take the same test of highest level English. If she


could obtain a higher score than her teacher, she would be excused from taking any further English courses. She had zero problems getting a high enough to opt out. I’ve seen a well defined difference in the levels of interest for a more correct form of spoken English from none-native speakers than native ones. I’m not only talking about the fact that foreign English speakers are more aware of the grammatical correctness in speech, but also that once they master that language, there’s more of an appreciation for maintaining that level of vernacular. This isn’t always the case of course, but It is something I’ve noticed my whole life. And I’ve definitely seen the indifference for a more correct manner of conquering the English language among native speakers.

Part 3- An Outside Perspective

Thoughts Words matter.language matters. I chose to interview different people from different countries to get a look at their take on the English language. A look at english and its loss of luster in the nation and how it holds a greater value internationally. Basically to answer my question of how it is that a native speaker can essentially, take a language that runs the world for granted. Most people don’t know any other languages– we assume that everyone speaks english. And if this is so, and we are only responsible for learning one language, why can’t we perfect it and look at its prestige that it holds. How is it that other countries appreciate this so much more.



Laurent Baarslag, 21 Belgium

Ermelia Depp, 19 Greece

Mikel Arnaiz, 21 Venezuela

Horia Dreve, 22 Romania

Karian Ramirez, 22 Mexico

Elizabeth Bora, 22 Belgium

Part 3- An Outside Perspective

Interview questions 1. When did you learn english? 2. … and how many other languages do you speak? 3. What does the english language mean to you? and are you glad you know how to speak it? 4. How important do you think it is to know how to speak english? 5. What do you think of the fact that words such as “twerk” and “yolo” have been added to the oxford dictionary? 6. In your mind how do you think most americans speak



Part 3- An Outside Perspective

Process I could never have done this project without having studied abroad last semester in Belgium. While I was there I met some amazing people. People I’m glad I’ve kept in touch with through Facebook and Skype. It’s amazing how connected we can be with the world through this piece of technology. Without it none of these interviews would have been possible. Skype is an incredible interaction tool. By using Skype interviews and some physical interviews from people in Florida, I was able to compile together a short documentary style video using Adobe Premiere.


For the Love of Language  

Senior thesis