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Language evolution

You'd think mass communication and a (presumed) homogenisation of culture would slow down the rate of language change.

I suspect however that the opposite is happening. Subcultures - from street gangs to internet geeks to accounting professionals to geographically isolated communities - all form their own linguistic idiosyncrasies, whether this just be the use of technical jargon or the creation of a new patois.

Sometimes - because of the mass media - such language changes can propagate faster than ever before. A little while ago on Wordforge there was a thread on whites appropriating so-called "black" words, a phenomenon surely accelerated by music, film and TV.

There's also a lot of rapid linguistic evolution happening not just in spoken English but written English on the internet: just look at the use of IM (and SMS) abbreviations (CUL8R), l33t speak and "smiley" conventions for instance. ;-)

It'd be interesting to see if any of these written developments carry over into spoken language.

So I'm toying with the idea of having some of my character in the future history set 75 years from now actually say the words we now only write...

"That was no nun. That was a penguin!" he finished.

"Rofl! OMG that was hysterical!" chortled Sally.

"Lol," said Barry, somewhat more restrained. "Lol. Yes, very amusing."


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 4, 2004 5:08 PM.

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