How can the Internet affect global language?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would like to add:

The Internet, as a communication resource has motivated the research for a myriad of new communication devices so that it can continue to branch out globally. Along with the devices, ways, and means that are created to ensure dissipation of information, new words have been coined, phrases have been adapted and adopted, and terms have been created.

The fact that so many people are using those myriads of new terms uniformly , we can say that the Internet is becoming "the" global new language. Technology is the new vocabulary.

krishna-agrawala | Student

A very interesting question. However to answer this question we must first agree on what we mean by global language. To my mind global language signifies a language used by large number of people from different countries across the Globe to communicate with each other. Currently, the language that serves this purpose is English.

Then this question can be re-framed as, "With increasing use of Internet, will English continue to be the global language, and if so what kind of features or changes can be expected in the English used for global communication?"

Currently I do not see even a distant second competitor to challenge the position of English as the global language. There It is quite certain that for a long time to come English will remain to be the global language. However, wider use of English across the Globe in general, and for Internet communication in particular is sure to modify English language in many ways.

As it is, all languages evolve and change with time. Also, all languages have variations used by used by different sets of people. English is no exceptions to these rules. The English of Shakespeare is so different from English of today. Actually I have seen copies of Shakespeare dramas translated in to modern English. Also, there are many different variations of English spoken in by different people. For example we have American English, British English, Indian English, and so on.

Now we have already seen development of what may be called Internet English. I believe this type of Internet English will become more and more popular and, over a period  will replace all different variations of English. No one can predict with certainty the exact nature of this kind of language, but certain trends are clearly visible, which are described below.

  • It will be more of the language of young people. This means that a lot of what what we consider the slang of young people will evolve in to the mainstream language.
  • It is a language of people in hurry. People are more likely to use short word, short sentences and abbreviations.
  • Share of written communication as a proportion of total written and spoken communication will increase. With this the tendency to be more formal in written communication will reduce and there will be less difference between written and spoken language.
  • There will be lot of communication between people of different geographical regions. This will result in fewer dialects of English being used by different people.
ryzamartinez | Student

Degradation of grammar and spelling in type—these are viewed as the outcome of  the Internet. Wynn (n.d.) pointed out the presence of a typical 90's sentence roaring through cyberspace with all the blunt elegance of "Sup d00dz!1! 1337 lol! I juz haxx0rd teh p0wer c0! lolz0rz!" or the more contemporary (and grammatically speaking, more stable) equivalent: "Heyo lol i totaly just like downloded taht new harbl movie lol”. Indeed, the plague that is grammar inconsistency that many educators have been working hard against is largely observed through the Internet, with Internet writing observed to have broken several rules of formal English. Language irregularities in areas such as capitalization, spelling and punctuation have been observed.

However, according to David Crystal, Professor of Linguistics (ScienceDaily, 2005), the expression of writing casualness that have considerably increased since the advent of the Internet can in fact be considered as an innovation that “allows all of us to explore the power of the written language in a creative way.” Language change that is steered by Internet use is being viewed upon as a foundation for studies regarding language development within a new media. Soanes (2006) of Oxford Dictionaries also stated that the growing language change ushered by the Internet can be seen as a learning experience, even explaining that “spelling isn't fixed and can change over the years… you only have to look back 100 years when the word rhyme was spelled rime”.

The fact that there is the presence of an ever-growing Internet jargon (acronyms like LOL which means “Laugh out Loud” and other abbreviations have alarmingly increased changes in the English language. Nonetheless, it can also be seen that various modes of interaction done through texting and blogging have given prospects to build up new stylistic rules, with Crystal once again stating that “We ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” in the currently observed phenomenon of the so-called “informal communication”. Wynn also pointed out that the "problem" is just the result of everyone’s habituated way of thinking, since most of us have been used to everything written professionally. Our minds have become familiarized to the notion that anything with palpable grammar errors can be deemed detrimental to a language.

Undoubtedly, the Internet, though it may have had a few setbacks especially for English learning and teaching, have only made us realize that language would always be evolving. There would always be language changes; indeed, we have witnessed the difference of Old English to the English that we now know today. The Internet has only expanded the typical range and variety of particularly graphical / written communication (Thorne, 2003). As Crystal states it, understanding and acquiring new genres of communication (at the level of style as well as lexicon and register) are entirely decisive to the process of becoming a capable communicator. In a world where a lot of technologies are growing like mushrooms every minute and where people find new ways of communicating given their insatiable need for social acts, it is imperative that every one must at least keep an open eye in observing significant phenomena such as language change—unless we want to be “LOL’ed” at for our indifference to changes in the 21st century.