It took many centuries to pass for English language to be finally formed and developed and now it has become the most widespread language on earth. It is already spoken on six continents and the number of speakers is growing all the time. It goes without saying that each historical event brought new changes to society and its culture, therefore language has been changing accordingly.
Language is a relative concept that is constantly adapting and changing to reflect the societal and cultural influences that affect its speakers. German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt summed up the changing nature of language in 1836 by stating that:
There can never be a moment of true standstill in language, just
as little as in the ceaseless flaming thought of men. By nature it
is a continuous process of development.
This idea of a language moving constantly and never completely staying still is applicable to any language as it can be shown to be changing through pressures placed upon it by a dominant faction of society.
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis directly links language and culture by stating that:
The content of a language is directly related to the content of a
culture and the structure of a language is directly related to the
structure of a culture.
The hypothesis is claiming that language is created from a culture and that a language is organized is directly linked to how the society it is created from is structured. If following this theory therefore language change is primarily attributed to the changes that are happening in the culture and society as it is only from these that any language can evolve and be brought into existence.
Language change because of the influences of other cultures influencing the English culture is not all due to the invasion of this country but also to the invasion of other countries by the English and technology allowing for more interaction between other cultures. The migration and movement of the English has meant that words, which normally would only be common among other cultures languages, have become commonplace and well used within English society, as travelers brought them back to this country. The influence of other cultures can clearly be seen when considering common words in use in today's society, such as shampoo, which is of Hindu origin, Algebra, which is of Arabic origin, Vodka, which is of Russian origin, and Pizza which is of Italian origin. These words are in common usage everyday in society and would not exist within the English language if it were not for travel abroad. One of the biggest impacts on the English language has been because of the growth of the USA and its dominance within the world. English has been changed by the growth of the USA as it has introduced new words revolving around the world of technology, business and the culture of the young and their influences on language.
Technological development within the world can also be shown to have had a significant influence upon language, resulting with it ultimately being changed and altered to reflect these developments. The creation of new technology, such as the computer and all of its advances, has resulted in new words being formed or created. As technological developments have advanced further more and more new words have been needed to accurately describe this progression which has resulted in words such as ‘laptop’ and ‘microchip’ being common words in today's vocabulary whereas they where none existent half a century ago. Society's need and want for further advancement and development of technology will have further affects on the English language as more new words will need to be formed to help newer generations understand each new development. The advancement of technology, which enables interaction between cultures to be more accessible, has also influenced the English language. The advancement of vehicles and means of traveling have resulted in the influence of several cultures to have impact upon the English language. The migration of other cultures to England and the migration of the English abroad have had a significant influence on language as it has meant that words which exist in other society's have been able to travel to this country and become part of its everyday language. The advancement of communication technology has also resulted in their being a development of the English language as television and the media have introduced new words to the population and have familiarize them so significantly that they have become commonly used and understood. This influence on society has resulted in a new vocabulary of words, which have successfully made it into use by the population at large directly because of the development of communication technology.
Changing standards and expectations within society can also be seen to have had a result on the English language. Religion to society members in previous centuries was important as it encapsulated the moral values that society's members were expected to attain to and follow. The turn away from religious values during the twentieth century can be seen as a having an effect upon language as society was no longer governed by the morals it had previously been restricted to and this in turn led to language being changed. Language change due to the transformation of society's standards and expectations can also be seen concerning the altering position of women in society that has become more noticeable during the later half of the last century. Women have been consider the subservient sex for many centuries and with the rise of the status of the female in a more recent time frame language has had to change to reflect this. Language has had to alter its male domination to reflect females’ role in society with such changes as ‘police man’ being changed to ‘police officer’ to be fair and not discriminate against female police officers. These formally generic terms of language have been broadened to reflect how the cultural importance of women has become more important and how language is attempting to attain equality by the reduction of male specific terms. Language can also be seen to change as a result of the issue of political correctness that has entered into society during the further emancipation of females and other less dominant groups in society. Political correctness can be seen in effect with regards to the changing aspects of language as it is enforced by the dominant forces in society to become a standard for all future changes that will occur within language. As language of the present and future is changing the influence of political correctness in terms of spoken and written forms of language can be considered to be important as it will be less likely for male specific terms to be created and introduced as none specific ones.
'The language system is always in the process of change and this holds true for the English language as with any other one. Words in English and the language as a whole are continually being altered and changed to reflect the developing nature of societal and cultural values, which are present at any given time within that society. Societal and cultural values influence the evolution of language and its meaning and influence upon society and its members. English has been developed over centuries into the form it now exists in and although their have been some major influences which have effected its change more rapidly than others it has constantly been changing in much more minor ways continually throughout its history. The effects of the change to the English language can be seen as being both positive and negative as some words attain new meanings which can have negative connotations, while other new words show the progression of society and the advancement of human nature. The changing nature of language, word usage and meaning can emphatically be shown by the fact that since William Caxton invented printing in 1476 and dictionaries lead to a standardized form of English their have been many revised editions which continually update and modernize what can always be considered an “out of date" language.
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