All languages change over time, and there can be many different reasons for this. The English language is no different – but why has it changed over the decades?
Some of the main influences on the evolution of languages include:
- The movement of people across countries and continents, for example migration and, in previous centuries, colonisation. For example, English speakers today would probably be comfortable using the Spanish word “loco” to describe someone who is “crazy”.
- Speakers of one language coming into contact with those who speak a different one. No two individuals speak identically: people from different geographical places clearly speak differently and even within the same community there are variations according to a speaker’s age, gender, ethnicity and social and educational background. For example, the word “courting” has become “dating”.
- New vocabulary required for inventions such as transport, domestic appliances and industrial equipment, or for sporting, entertainment, cultural and leisure reasons. For example, the original late 19th-century term “wireless” has become today’s “radio”.
Due to these influences, a language always embraces new words, expressions and pronunciations as people come across new words and phrases in their day-to-day lives and integrate them into their own speech.
What changes has the English language seen?
What do the changes mean?
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