chapter  4
21 Pages

Language change

How much linguistic change has taken place since the arrival of the Internet? The phenomenon is so recent – few people would be able to acknowledge its presence in their lives before the mid-1990s – that we might expect very little to have happened. Changes in language typically take decades, or even lifetimes, before they are established. But history is no guide, when it comes to electronic technology. In olden times (i.e. before the Internet), it would take several years before a new word would achieve a sufficiently high community profile to appear in print, be picked up by lexicographers, and come to be recorded in dictionaries. Today, a new word can achieve a global profile within hours. It seems likely that the Internet will speed up the process of language change.