Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)
Our changing language
Our language is constantly evolving. Have you ever thought about how different our language is from the way it was 100 years ago? The way we say certain words or even the words we say today are different. A big question that many people have when they think about our changing language is, is it a good or bad thing? I personally think it is a good thing. Language is constantly evolving to keep up with the world today.
For instance, Shakespeare, reading them today is difficult for most people. Shakespeare is an example of just how far our language has evolved. Why does language change, though?
Language is constantly changing for several reasons. The speakers, technology, products, and experiences change (Birner). All of these are intertwined, though. They are all intertwined because, if you think about it, we speakers have evolved because of the technology and experiences we have now.
Back in Shakespeare’s time they didn’t have items such as phones, computers, televisions. We have had to evolve our language by adding words and getting rid of some to be able to adapt to our changing world. Words such as: “Abraham-man,” “cowabunga,” or “ginchy.” These words are some we have never even heard of; they are just outdated because we have developed new words in their place or don’t need them at all anymore. “Cowabunga” for example is a word we just have a new word for. Cowabunga today is known as awesome or cool. Another reason that our language is constantly changing is that we all have different experiences with language. Growing up in different states, regions, or countries changes the words we hear and the way they are said.
The accents people have and the different pronunciations can really change the way language can be carried on through the years. Language begins to change mostly with teens and young adults. When younger people interact they tend to create their own words and phrases to represent the things they are experiencing. Not all of the words will stick around, but sometimes they do and they cause changes in the language. Take texting as an example. Different generations have come up with their own words or phrases to say things instead of spelling it out.
When they use these different terms/phrases to say things, the words tend to stick sometimes. Younger generations are also the people who come up with slang words. Slang words can be carried through the generations or they can die out with that generation. Language is constantly evolving and changing. Whether the words continue or stop with a generation the younger generations are a big reason our language evolves. One thing is for sure, our language will continue to change and evolve over time and we will just have to go with it.
Birner, B. (n.d.). Is English changing. Retrieved from https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/english-changing.
Brooke Kuehn is a senior studying K-8 education. She plans to teach 3rd to 5th grade someday. This is her second year at Chadron after transferring as a junior from McCook Community College, where she received an associates of art degree. She is from Holdrege, Nebraska, where she lives with her aunt, uncle, and their two children.