Process of Language Change

Map and explanations of different factors and processes which influence and impact on the ways in which language can develop and change. 

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  • Process of Change
    • Blurring of the class structure
      • Post war: - All men fought together no matter what social class - all women started work.
      • Decline of Deference - where one respects one's elders. Instead emerged respect for individuality
      • Rise of the middle class, blurs the boundaries between the dictions of the upper and working classes. Standardization and decline of RP.
    • Education
      • Broadening availability of education for all - greater competency of literacy and state schools bringing children from different social classes together.
      • University has become less elitist (4% went in the 1920/30s, 35% go nowadays) - Brings together people from different areas - dialects. Merging of social classes.
    • Introduction of public broadcasting
      • In 1922, the BBC set out the exemplify 'correctness' by only broadcasting formal speech with and upper class dialect.
        • Rise of the middle class, blurs the boundaries between the dictions of the upper and working classes. Standardization and decline of RP.
      • Later introduction of Television in the 1950s brought about a rise in broadcasted local dialects. Whilst trying to uphold RP through the 60s and 70s, this declined recently.
    • Popular Youth Culture
      • 'Teenagers' as a social group did not exist pre-1950s. Childhood went straight to adulthood with people going to work at 14 years old.
      • Modern 'baby boom' and change in education laws meaning affluent 14-18 year olds. Popular culture aimed at this group, e.g. music
      • Liverpudlian  regional accent became fashionable amongst youths during The Beatles era - impacting dialect and language.
      • Teenagers more open to change and fashions than older people. Dialects and linguistic features picked up at this age are likely to stick.
      • Some say teenage language is a decline in standards, or 'sloppy'. They might argue it's a progression and a more comfortable form of speech.
    • Proliferation of film and video
      • Film acquiring sound in 1927 - public first being exposed to American accents
      • US speech became fashionable. Less social stigma surrounding the short 'a' sound which is common in the north of England.
      • American Influence - not as large as some say, often exaggerated by those who disapprove of change. Many 'Americanisms' originate from 17th century British, 'gotten' for example.
    • Decline of rural dialect and the rise in urbanisation
      • After the Industrial revolution, more people live and work in the city, with less extended families living together in the country. Resulting in a decline of rural dialects.
    • Global Communications
      • Introduction and progression of new technologies has connected people from afar. ('tele' in telephone and telegram - from Greek 'far')
      • Language had to adapt to new discourses from new technologies, e.g e-mail structure.
      • Medium such as e-mail has own distinct language rules, informal lexis, symbol emoticons and tolerance of spelling errors.
      • Globally recognized terms emerging from common technologies. 'Net' referring to the Internet - a multi-lingual term.


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