English Linguistics

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Studying English linguistics involves a new understanding of how words are formed and through what methods that meanings are assigned to these new words. It is rather fascinating to imagine a world prior to the development of words that are relatively common yet through this understanding one comes to realize that common words seem to appear every day. From borrowing from other cultures to developing verbs from new nouns, the process of language evolution seems to be more of a new language development than a continuation of the present language. In other words, this author questions as what point does process of linguistic changes constitute a new language rather than additions to the present language?

Of course, it is obvious that the English language will remain to be labeled as it is, but is there not enough evidence to support an entirely new language than that of our ancestors? Would our forefathers understand what is being said in what is still known as the “English language?” Even more relative, how does a foreign language speaker grasp the rapid changes in the English language as it tends to evolve more rapidly than the text books or translation software that is available? Each of these areas of concern must be addressed in order to determine whether or not the English language is still in fact the English language.

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As new words emerge based on technology, morphology becomes a very relative term through nominalization of these terms. For example, the proper noun “Google,” represents a company that offers a search engine that individuals can use to find information on the internet. However, when one discusses searching for information using this website, it is not called “searching” but is rather called “googling.” If an individual in unfamiliar with the company or the website, they would quite obviously be unfamiliar with the process of “googling” and the entire scenario would have to be explained. A simplistic view would suggest that everyone simply call the process searching in order to avoid such situations but this would hinder the evolution of the English language.

Another example of this process is found in the use of cell phones. Text, as a noun, would generally define printed words. However, as a noun in today’s society, a text is a transmission of characters over a cellular device. Furthermore, texting is the process of sending and receiving these transmissions. Ironically, as this is being typed, the spell checking software does not recognize “texting” as a properly spelled word. The software is unable to keep up with the nominalization of the words yet society expects both native English speakers and ESL speakers to understand these changes often without warning. Technology changes the language yet the technology itself does not evolve rapidly enough to prepare the speakers of that language.

Regardless of the changes, the English language remains to be one of the most prominent languages to be spoken across the globe. Trends in the language occur frequently and, those which are the most relevant to the society, eventually become part of the common knowledge of the speakers. This means that the changes do not necessarily constitute a new language but rather one that is able to express the changes and advancements of the society. After all, one of the principle functions of a language is to express what is happening within a society. By altering the language and adding new terms, the society is better equipped to assert these expressions. Keeping up with the changes in society therefore parallels keeping up with the changes in the English language itself.

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