How the Internet is changing language

The internet is evolving language at a faster pace than Webster’s American dictionary did in 1814.

Role of the internet

The internet is a huge resource, currently thought to hold some 4.5 billion webpages worldwide, and English has become a common language for global users.

Linguists predict that in 10 years the language will continue dominate the internet, even among those whose native tongue is not English. However, they expect it to adapt into a variety of different forms that we might not recognise as English today.

Online, where there is supposedly less pressure to be grammatically precise or use correct spelling, non-native speakers writing to each other create new forms of the language, now worrying about accent or accuracy.

Computational linguist Robert Munro believes that English has become an aspirational language in some regions of the world, “driven by modern forms of entertainment,” which make people perceive it as “the language of the digital age”.

In practise

“On the internet, all that matters is that people can communicate – nobody has a right to tell them what the language should be”, says Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics at American University in Washington DC.

“The internet enfranchises people who are not native speakers to use English is significant and meaningful ways. If you can talk Facebook into putting up pages, you have a language that has political and social standing even if it doesn’t have much in the way of linguistic uniqueness”.

Facebook already sees a variety of “Englishes”, including Indian English, known as Hinglish, Spanglish (Spanish English) and Konglish (Korean English). All of these variations existed to some degree before the internet, but online use is expanding their scope.

How are languages changing?

Some words are simple adaptions of traditional English. In Singlish, which is Singaporean English, “blur” has come to mean “confused” or “slow”. The logic of the change is evident, a blur being something confusing.

Other examples see English words combined with other languages to make something new. In Konglish, “skinship” means intimate physical contact such as handholding. It would appear the term derives from words such as “relationship” and “friendship”.

As more people the world over start to communicate online, more languages will be altered and perhaps even new ones created. It is a positive aspect of the internet that it encourages multiple languages to flourish and opens up communication across the globe.

Professional translation services

Whilst the internet is an incredible place for communication and language, where global communities forge their own languages from existing templates, its practices cannot be expanded into everyday business and documentation.

At Today Translations, we regularly provide quality translations for several industries and global companies. As a professional translation agency, we understand the importance of accurate translations and interpreting. Our team of over 2,000 translators are experienced in all industries and provide the highest level of accuracy.

To discuss your international translation or interpreting requirements, please call us on +44 (0) 207 397 2770 or email us at info@todaytranslations com