Language is a mirror of the people who use it, and a reflection of their culture, mentality, technology and other developments affecting their lives.
Technological development rapidly accelerated in the last few decades, and now it’s hard for us to imagine our lives without personal computers, smartphones, 24/7 communication and multiple channels of digital information. New technologies are continually evolving, so they need new representation in language either by borrowing from associated “old school” words, and adapting their meanings to suit the new digital world or by creating completely new vocabulary.
As pioneering gadgets and inventions are rapidly introduced and adapted, we are quick to abandon and neglect the old devices which have become obsolete. Let’s reflect on how English aspects of language have evolved in the last 35 years, how our lives changed during this time, and how the past influences the present. Generation by generation, pronunciations change, new words are borrowed or invented, and the meaning of old words change and morph into new meanings. The rate of change varies, but whether the changes are faster or slower, they build up until the original meaning becomes distant and different.
Where we would be without avatars, hashtags, memes, spam, geeks and other English terms the internet has brought into fashion by using old words to describe new technologies and experiences? Linguists predict that in 10 years the English language will continue to dominate the internet, even among those whose native tongue is not English. However, they expect it to mutate into a variety of different forms that we might not recognise as the language we know today. Online, where there is less pressure to be grammatically precise or use correct spelling, non-native speakers writing to each other, create new forms of the language, without paying close attention to accuracy.