English is Alive !

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Words are like flames in a fire – they live, twist and turn, die out or revive.

  Yes, English is most definitely alive and kicking. It might sound strange to you that a language can be considered to be a living thing, but the English language is constantly evolving and has done so ever since the Anglo Saxon language developed into what we now call Middle English, which in turn became Early Modern English, leading the way to how we speak English today.

How changes happen

Of course, these changes do not happen overnight. They are shaped by society’s attitude to events, by circumstance, by the new inventions of the age – just think how many new words have been invented due to technological advances in the twentieth century, let alone the swirl of technology that surrounds us now.  Here are just six examples of common words or expressions that would bewilder our forefathers – Wi-Fi, broadband (technology), greenhouse gas, carbon footprint (circumstance), or transgender, manspreading (social change).

And of course, any language evolves due to the same type of events in its society and this is why there are many different types of English we can find throughout the world. Why do Americans say “sidewalk” when the British say “pavement”? Well, because before globalization, the English language developed one way in the U.S. and another in the U.K. Nowadays with the Internet, Hollywood films and globalisation, a great many British people are familiar with American terms, and even though they may never use the word themselves, they clearly recognise it and know its meaning.   Nevertheless, in the world of the Mayflower and the pilgrims, the English language was developing due to social change and circumstances in Britain, which were not the same as in the United States, so therefore language evolution was different in North America. 

Other Languages

And what is more, exactly the same process happened with Spanish in the Latin American countries after the first Spanish settlers arrived . Often, in the same way as American English, the emigrants retained the same word from the original language – for example, “carro” in Mexican Spanish, which originally meant “cart”, is now used to signify a car.  In Spain however, a new word for car was invented, “coche”.  Words like “trash” or “stove” – still used widely in North America – evolved into “rubbish” and “cooker” in Britain. Some people claim that American English or British English is better than the other – It seems to me that they are really just expressing a preference for the vocabulary used in their territory.

So what do you think? Do you believe one strain of English is better than another?


My blog

So, welcome to my all-inclusive, non-judgmental blog. If you enjoy reading about the English language for whatever reason, join me. I’ll be posting advice for exam students for the First, Advanced and IELTS exams along with musings on the idiosyncrasies of the English language for anyone who is interested. I look forward to blogging with you again soon.