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THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE – WHY WE CREATE NEW WORDS

Jun 14, 2016 / by Thump / In Industry / Tags: , , , , / 1 Comment

The English language is one that is constantly evolving and has been consistently adapted throughout history. Literary giants such as Geoffrey Chaucer introduced the terms ‘approach’ and ‘universe’, whilst William Shakespeare, the renowned playwright and poet, introduced at least 500 new words. Words such as lonely, hint and critic, which seem integral to our language nowadays were first familiarised within some of Shakespeare’s works. Although the pronunciation of English has evolved hugely over the centuries, the spelling of words has only altered slightly.

English is a living language, refusing to be static, creating new words and borrowing words from other languages like Latin, Greek and French. Whilst some may change their meaning, or simply shift their vowel sound and add or lose a consonant, one word can quickly become become another in the modern age. Naturally, with this evolving process of the English language, we also lose some old words like ‘jirble’ (meaning – pour a liquid with an unsteady hand), ‘lunting’ (meaning – walking while smoking a pipe) and ‘twitter-light’ (meaning – twilight).

The majority of the changes that occur in our language often start with young adults and teens. As they interact with their peers, the language begins to grow to include phrases and constructions that are different from the previous generations. Many of these new speech patterns tend to grate on the older adults, especially when it includes the sloppy pronunciation and slurring of words. The saving grace for the older generation or become frustrated with these new ‘trendy’ words is that majority of them have a relatively short life span.

We all have a slight variation on a set of words and constructions, depending on our age, education, job and region of the country. These constructions naturally become idiomatic. Some individuals within our society use language as a way of marking group identity, particularly in the spoken language.

The following words have recently become integrated into the English language within the 21st Century:

Blog
Selfie
Crowdfund
Voluntourism
Twerk
Jeggings
Photobomb

The science of creating new words is vast, with various methods of doing such. Most recently, the use of blending and initialisms is incredibly prevalent. Blending creates a combination word. Words such as internet, sitcom and paratrooper are products of blending which seem natural to us, yet this trend is still present recent developments in modern language with words like ‘hangry’ (meaning hungry and angry).

Initialisms have surged in popularity owing to social media. With the 140 character restriction on Twitter, the use of initialisms such as BTW (by the way) and LOL (laugh out loud) have become fundamental. The younger generation, in particular, use these initialisms in everyday verbal communication.

Word blending and initialisms highlight the fast-paced world that we live in. People in all walks of life want quick information and the creation of these new words aids this. The evolution of the English language retains its place as one of the most current and useful languages in the world today. The need to stay up-to-date with the various adaptations to our language solidifies the face that is one of our most vital communicative tools.

1 Comments

  • Nick Burman 15th June 2016 at 10:41am Reply

    Do you think it’s necessary to adopt the new fads or should we be maintaining the existing pillars of our language, grasping tightly on to our verbal heritage? On one hand, it may be important to be able to communicate to all people, but won’t you be ostracising previous or older generations by overloading prose with initialisms and restricted code?
    Anyway, interesting post!

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