Arianna Campbell November 24, 2018

English is one of the most used languages on the planet. It has constantly changed and evolved throughout time and has done so for several reasons. One of the most important reasons as to why it has changed is technology. Technology has been one of the largest factors in shaping and evolving the English language. From the printing press being created around 1476, to the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the technological society, and finally, the Internet and social media, technology has always played a role in the evolution of the english language.

First of all, the English language began to change because of the printing press, which was introduced around 1440. “William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476. Books became cheaper and as a result, literacy became more common. Publishing for the masses became a profitable enterprise, and works in English, as opposed to Latin, became more common. Finally, the printing press brought standardization to English. The dialect of London, where most publishing houses were located, became the standard. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the first English dictionary was published in 1604.” (anglik.net) William brought the printing press to England and it revolutionized English as a language. Since things became cheaper to print, books became cheaper so more people could afford them, then that which in turn improved the literacy rate and reading was not just for those who could pay a pretty penny. Since the printing press helped literacy and books become more common, a standard for English was established. As time went on, grammar and spelling were corrected, and in 1604, the first official English dictionary was established. This was a huge development for the English language as a whole and helped shape it into what it is today. Printing was a much faster way to copy texts and it helped the English language to be standardized quicker. “Printing, because of its ability to produce Same Day papers and so much more material than scribal copying, perhaps only sped up a process that was already underway. It is also significant that the printed works being circulated were, for the most part, English books.” (Dickens) It helped that most of the books were English, which only made the process faster. Clearly, the Printing press has had a substantial effect on the modification of the English language.

Second of all, Industrial Revolution and the rise of the technological society which started in the mid 1700s changed the English language quite a bit. Because of these revolutions, new words or neologisms were required. “The industrial and scientific revolutions created a need for neologisms to describe the new creations and discoveries. For this, English relied heavily on Latin and Greek. Words like oxygen, protein, nuclear, and vaccine did not exist in the classical languages, but they were created from Latin and Greek roots. Such neologisms were not exclusively created from classical roots though, English roots were used for such terms as horsepower, airplane, and typewriter.” (anglik.net) There were so many new creations and discoveries that new words or sayings needed to be created to fit the many new creations and discoveries. Because of the advancement in technology, new words were created, thus furthering the English language even farther. Because of global trade, other languages gave words to English, which are still used today. “Hindi, and the other languages of the Indian subcontinent, provided many words, such as pundit, shampoo, pajamas, and juggernaut. Virtually every language on Earth has contributed to the development of English, from Finnish (sauna) and Japanese (tycoon) to the vast contributions of French and Latin.”(Dickens) All types of languages influenced English. Some are Japanese, Indian, and even Spanish. As you can see, the industrial & technological revolution greatly influenced the shaping of English.

Last but not least, the Internet and social media are also things that heavily influenced the English language. One way this has happened is through social media. Social media is where a lot of this new version of English takes place. Grammar and spelling is less emphasized, and things are purposely misspelled. “One language change that has definitely been overhyped is so-called text speak, a mixture of often vowel-free abbreviations and acronyms, says Prof Crystal.” (Kleinman) A few examples of this text speak are things like “Lol” which stands for laugh out loud, and “Brb” which stands for Be right back. This is so prevalent online, that it is actually leaking out into the real world. People will actually speak out text abbreviations. This new medium of communication has also changed people‚Äôs grammar. “For English speakers there are cult websites devoted to cult dialects – “LOLcat” – a phonetic and deliberately grammatically incorrect caption that accompanies a picture of a cat, and “Leetspeak” in which some letters are replaced by numbers which stem from programming code.” (Kleinman) An example of this, is someone posting a picture of an angry cat and having a caption that says “I ARE ANGRYS!!!11.” New verbs have been created to go with this new change in technology. “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 smartphones (not yet in the OED), have either been recently invented or come into popular use.” (Kleinman) A few examples of this is when someone says “Tweet a photo” or ” To Bing it.” irrefutably, Social media and the internet has changed the English language once again.

In conclusion, English as a language has evolved and morphed throughout time in many ways. The most clear reason as to why this happened is technology. It has been one of the largest reasons as to why the English language has changed so much over the centuries. From the printing press created around 1476, to the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the technological society, and finally, the Internet and social media.