Say it quick(ly) and write fast may be the way we communicate now, but if you think that efficiency is the driver of language development, as attested by the Oxford English Dictionary, you would be wrong. Their so-called development of the language, 650 words added in March 2019, is just a hobby for academics and far removed from the reality of the down and dirty evolution which it taking place all around us.
If you really want to witness a language developing look no further than German. Not the grammar of course, where the introduction of three genders randomly allocated to nouns was reputedly created by God in order to slow them down and stop them taking over the world, but in the creation of new words based solely on efficiency or, to put it simply, why use a long word when a short one will do?
Now anybody familiar with German will now be screaming denial, after all, German is the home of such amazingly long words as:Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft(80 characters) which for those unfamiliar with the language means:
Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services (100 characters).
So the German is actually shorter – and even shorter when considering the way we say words since they are not pronounced letter by letter but syllable by syllable. Here the German is a clear winner, 24 syllables in German, 34 in English.
In fact, English can be considered the home of brevity with translations from German usually being shorter, though there are outstanding contradictions. “Zeitgeist” with two syllables is infinitely more efficient than the English “spirit of the times” with five and has earned a rightful place in the English dictionary and all the quality newspapers.
In fact, comparing the efficiency of words base on syllables, German might have quite a lot to offer. A favourite of mine is “Umwelt” (2) for environment (4) (limited though to the natural world) which has immediately spawned a new German word “unweltfighter” (4) for environmental activist (8). On this basis of course it is clear why the Titanic struck an iceberg and not an ice mountain. It was all to do with efficiency.