Language Change Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 5 May 2016

Language Change

The history of English language has seen many changes due to social and cultural influences with an array of reactions from its users. English has changed due to the ever emerging technologies and the need use them as efficiently as possible. The views and values of its users have a huge impact on the direction language takes in the way it changes and develops. Although there are many people who accept and embrace the changes in language, there are just as many people whom believe otherwise.

People’s views of one another and social cultural values change over time and this affects the connotations attached to words and ideas. The users of a language are the sole cause to why words change or lose meaning to become obsolete because their current perceptions will be reflected in the language. A number of words have come to carry sexual connotations due to the idea becoming a taboo topic of conversation, and therefore people used other words along with body language to imply these ideas. Words such as “hussy” and “slut”, which originally meant ‘housewife’ and ‘untidy’, have come to mean ‘promiscuous women’ and ‘loose women’.

This reflects the change in perception of women’s sexuality and social roles, and how women are being degraded to be seen as sex objects. As words can gain meaning, they can also lose meaning. An example of this is the word “fuck”, which originally had the connotations relating to ‘sex’ and ‘sexual activity’, it is now used freely as a means to express many different emotions and no longer thought of as a sexual word although the connotations still exist. Words change to suit the needs of its users of the current time, sometimes the original meaning is carried until today while others change drastically.

It is argued that texting has “destroyed” the language with all its shorthand and the language is going “down-hill” because young people are not using language correctly, however many linguist believe otherwise. The use of “abbreviated” language has been used “ever since [the language] began to be written down” and it is not just used by the young people but people of all ages. History shows that Anglo-saxon scribes used abbreviations such as “&” for ‘and’ and “3” for ‘three’, which have now even become standard, this proves that texting is not what initiated written language to be used this way. The growth of “abbreviated” language paired with the need for faster
written communication has caused the language to be used with less grammar and therefore the language is not used correctly. However, Charlie Higsons (author) says that “the only function [language] needs to perform is to be understood” and therefore correct use of grammar is not necessary in spontaneous contexts. These people, often referred to as “grammar Nazis”, are bothering “with [language] in quite the wrong way” as expressed by Stephen Fry.

The English language has always changed and will continue to change as long as its users’ social cultural views and values change, and as the contexts in which the language can be used expand. People will have an opinion on the changes in language, irrespective of time. Whether they like it or not language change is inevitable, therefore its users should see this in a positive light and help change the language so it can become more expressive and diverse.

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  • University/College: University of California

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  • Date: 5 May 2016

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