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Language and Gender in Adolescence Essay

In the reading, I agree with Penelope Eckert that adolescents are leaders of linguistic change. According to the World Wide Web, linguistic change is a phenomenon whereby phonetic, morphological, semantic, syntactic, and other features of language vary over time. Adolescents also known as teenagers or youth play a significant role in deteriorating or accelerating the kind of linguistic system in a particular place or community.

If to be analyzed, this can be equated to the strong, active and consistent participation of the youth in voicing out their opinions, getting into social issues and trends, and in creating an environment that is suitable and almost ideal to their generation. In my opinion, there are three reasons which support the claim that adolescents are leaders of linguistic change in today’s age. These are peer pressure, media and the Internet. Peer Pressure A primary concern for teens during adolescence is the issue of ‘fitting in’ and ‘belongingness’.

Since adolescence is an adjustment period where children suddenly leap to a stage where he or she would start in creating an image of themselves or a self-concept, there is a tendency for them to be lost and confused to who and what they really should be due to the numerous options in front of them. Often said than not, adolescents are more easily swayed rather than adults. It is easier to teach a youngster that is less matured and still in the process of knowing his or herself than an adult who already has a formed principle and beliefs.

For example, if there is a new trend, let’s say in fashion or music, an adolescent would normally be swayed to what is ‘in’ and hit’ to most of the people around him or her so that he or she may be accepted in the circle he or she wanted to belong to. This also goes with his or her choice of words and language. Adolescents tend to speak the way people around them speak. They tend to become the persons their environment and peers dictate them to be in order to be socially accepted and relevant.

When it comes to choice of words and language, youth can be easily influenced with what vernacular or words to use since in the stage of puberty serves as their training ground and preparation phase of how and who they’ll be in the future. Moreover, due to peer pressure, adolescents are assigned to groups or pacts which can influence another group of adolescents that make the widening of a certain trend expand faster. For example, in the Philippines there is this particular way or style of speaking called the ‘conyo’.

In this manner, the person tends to combine his or her vernacular with American English when speaking in public or to certain persons. Most youth embraced this kind of manner since it is what is ‘in’ and famous among adolescents of their generation. Now, if a group speaks that way then heard by another person or group of persons and then that certain persons adopt the manner of speaking, there is a domino effect of the ‘conyo’ style that changes the linguistic system existing in that certain place or community.

Media and the Internet Media and Internet are two powerful tools in linguistic change. This can be viewed in two ways: first, media and internet as tools in changing and influencing the minds and behavior of the people, and second, these tools as used by the people to change and influence their environment. Since most media and internet users are composed of the young population, those of which belong to the teen’s age and young adulthood, it can be concluded that the adolescents compromise this population.

Now, how do the media and the Internet serve as tools in influencing their users? The media is changing and along the likes of TV programs that are hit to their viewers, people especially teenagers are going along with the change. Since media is a daily part of one’s life, it can easily influence its viewers on how they should be. For example, most teens mimic their favorite artists with their fashion, choice of stuffs and even with their manner of talking and handling things.

Aside from the media, the Internet constitutes a great deal in linguistic change. The trends being delivered by Internet services like instant messaging, blogging and social networking influences the culture of its users when it comes to their linguistic style and system. Instant messaging taught us the short-style of sending messages (i. e. “Who R U? ”, BRB, LOL, and the like). Through media and Internet, adolescents are also exposed to different styles of language.

They are exposed to the kind of words they see in web pages, newspapers, magazines and different publications, and hear in TV and radios or in podcasts that sooner or later they’ll adopt. On the other hand, these tools are also used by the people to change and influence their environment and co-individuals. Through these, the youth became more empowered when connecting with their co-youth and when sharing their ideals that affect a great deal of people. They became more heard, powerful and capable of changing the linguistic system they live with.

They were able to take control of the system through media, internet, and their characteristics as youth and population. To summarize, I believe that adolescents are the leaders of linguistic change. Primarily, the interconnectedness of peer pressure, media and the internet attributed to the power of the youth to be the catalyst of change in their linguistic system due to their own ways and styles of dealing with their environment and in their process of finding and knowing them


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