Chances that you are going on holiday with a Kindle or similar e-reader are high. Some purists may frown, because they prefer the love, smell, feel, weight of a ‘real’ book to an electronic device that feels a bit like something from the office they’ve forgotten to leave behind.
Two years ago the Four Corners Writer’s Group published the arguments for and against readers. The pros boiled down to:
* it’s a space saver (e-readers hold 1500 plus books)
* it holds a wide variety of media (news papers, magazines, blogs as well as books)
* it’s ecological (millions of trees will survive)
* many are free, particularly those in the public domain
* many are cheaper in electronic form than on paper
* it provides access to out of print or rare books
* it comes in instant form, no shopping, no waiting
* it allows text/font size to be adapted to suit the eyes
* it’s lighter for travel, especially if pushed on airline baggage allowances
* many will permit audio books to be downloaded so you can listen without the hassle of actually reading words!
The cons or drawbacks came out as:
* they’re expensive at first purchase
* being a gadget they can break when dropped or run out of battery power
* they need covers, more expense
* page refreshing isn’t as satisfying as turning a real page
* you can’t just flip through the pages and reading or re-reading easily random bits
* there is no love affair/romance between book-lovers and their books. Or book-lovers and bookshops.
So some of these may be a bit outdated now, because it seems more possible to have a mixed economy of real books and e-readers, one more suitable at a given location than the other.
But let’s spare a thought for your language of reading, English.
English Keeps On Evolving
We speak a living language. English evolves constantly, absorbing new and foreign words with a happy abandon which partly explains why it has become the main language (either first or second) of most people on earth.
A new online dictionary from Collins is including words nominated by the public. Previously dictionaries have taken account of new words and meanings that have become part of every day speech after a period of time, and when verified by newspapers, TV, films and anecdotal evidence subsequently confirmed.
This new one aims to make /more democratic’ the way English language is recorded. Tash-on and omnishambles have become everyday words, from television, pop culture and technology.
To enter the lexicon words or phrases must be used by people of different ages and in different contexts. Frequency of use and staying power are other criteria for inclusion.
Loquaciousness Is Rife
Technology has exacerbated changes and evolution. Regional and national quirks add to that. It is generally assumed by others that native English speakers never use one words if six will do. Words are not weighed and measured carefully.
Long-windedness means we insert ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs’, basically and realistically quite unnecessarily. We waste words, in effect. Some do it through nerves or insecurity; most through a kind of verbal laziness.
Politicians are regarded as the worst culprits, never giving a direct question a straight answer. However, workers in law, education, religion, retail, bureaucracy and psychology equally stand accused of murdering the language.
Texts Now Top Choice
All that may contradict the findings of Ofcom in their Communications Market Report, which believes sending text messages is now the preferred medium of communication for most people. Texts have increased while real phone conversations have declined.
They reckon the average adult sends 200 texts a month (doubled in 4 years), with over half of adults admitting to texting friends and relatives every day to keep in touch. It tops phone calls, social networking and face to face contacts.
The time on phone calls is also declining, with calls on landlines showing marked drops now year on year.
So is one conclusion that as we move away from face to face communication skills, we find ourselves talking more when we are actually in contact with another human being in the flesh?
Happy reading, however you do it. On paper or screen, full words in complete sentences or tweets/texts.
Four Corners Writer’s Group, The Pros and Cons About E-Readers (2010)