How the internet is changing language

25 May 2014, 12:00 am
Published in Latest News

'To Google' has become a universally understood verb and many countries are developing their own Internet slang. But is the web changing language and is everyone up to speed? There is no doubt that technology has had a "significant impact" on language in the last 10 years.

Some entirely new words like the verb 'to google' or look something up on a search engine, and the noun 'app', used to describe programmes
for smart phones (not yet in the OED), have been invented and widely accepted.


Website internetslang.com lists 5,090 English language acronyms in use.But the hijacking of existing words and phrases is more common.
The phrase "social networking" deputed in the OED in 1973. Its definition - "the use or establishment of social networks or connections" - has only comparatively recently been linked to Internet-based activities.


These are words that have arisen out of the phenomenon rather than being technology words themselves.
Wireless in the 1950s meant a radio. It's very rare to talk about a radio now as a wireless, unless you're of a particular generation or trying to be ironic. The word has taken on a whole new significance.

It is still too early to fully evaluate the impact of technology on language.
The whole phenomenon is very recent - the entire technology we're talking about is only 20 years old as far as the popular mind is concerned.
Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to a word is that it becomes too mainstream.
Remember a few years ago, West Indians started talking about 'bling'. Then the white middle classes started talking about it and they stopped using it.
That's typical of slang - it happens with Internet slang as well.
Txt spk
One language change that has definitely been over hyped is so-called text speak, a mixture of often vowel-free abbreviations and acronyms.People say that text messaging is a new language and that people are filling texts with abbreviations - but when you actually analyse it you find they're not.


In fact only 10% of the words in an average text are not written in full.
Wireless in the 1950s meant a radio. It's very rare to talk about a radio now as a wireless, unless you're of a particular generation or trying to be ironic

They may be in the minority but acronyms seem to anger as many people as they delight.

 

 

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