Language Change! A2

These are a bunch of random notes which arent really in logical order. Just for my own revision purpose really. But I hope you find them useful too.

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Roots of our language.

1066- The battle of Hastings

The norman conquest brings French to England

After this, England is Tri- lingual;

Latinate- Is used in the church and legal system 

French-  Is used by royals. Words such as; Boutique, Cafe and option ( usually elevated language)

Anglo Saxon- is used by peasants. Usually very basic words, such as pig, cow and swear words.

It wasn't until the French arrived that we had a separate word for the animal and the food that comes from it. Therefore the word beef was influenced by the French Boeuf 

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Important dates

Caxtons printing press 1476- This is the beginning of standardising the english language. Books no longer had to be hand written, although they were still very expensive and elaborate and so only wealthier people owned them,

King james version of the Bible 1611

The dictionary was introduced 1755- Johnsons dictionary then taught us that there was a right and a wrong way to spell ( standardisation )

schooling widely available in 1900's- this meant that more and more people were learning to read and write

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Attitudes toward language change

Prescriptivism; Prescriptivists state rules about how they think language should be used 'properly'. They believe in the standardisation of language and feel that language change is more a state of 'decay' than anything else. They are against change.

For example, Johnson was a prescriptivist with his dictionary. He wrote a huge preface at the beginning about how it was his duty to standardise spelling. And emphasised that there is a right and wrong way to use language.

Descriptivism; This involves describing language as it is used without judging it to be correct or incorrect. Instead of seeing it as a state of decay, they are interested in how and why language changes and see it as a progress.

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The nineteenth century, factors driving language c

The industrial revolution, railways improved communication and travel across regions. New words were also emerging for new technologies such as cars and factories.

The novel was inroduced with such authors as Jane austen and Dickens.

Darwin provided the first big challenge to the church with his scientific theory of evolution.

Increase in Trade, more contact with other countries. Words were borrowed from other languages.

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The 20th century, factors driving language change.

World war one and two- patrioticism and morale boosting language.

1947- the welfare state- the NHS

Teenage subcultures, new terms and slang terms

1971- Equal pay act.

Gay rights

Hip hop emerging.


New technology, requires new words.

Loss of authority, people began to distrust authority

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After Caxtons printing press in 1476, the production of books grew dramatically.

Images used to be carved into wood or engraved into metal, and printing would be done by hand. It was time consuming ( but not as consuming as writing them out )

Books can now be produced easily and cheaply, digital images can be used and machinery which replaces workers.

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Pidgins and Creoles

A pidgin is a language which has been created for the purpose of trading. This happens when two people that dont share a language, create thier own in order to understand each other, although this is not thier native language.

A Creole is when this pidgin becomes the native language of a society and is used for all purposes and not just trading. An example of this is the language Tok Pisin

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Heteroglossia is the idea that the meaning of an utterance depends entirely on the context, who said it and when, the idea of Heteroglossia is linked strongly with centripetal and centrifugal forces. These are forces which act on language.

Centrifugal; this is the force that wants to be innovative with language and resist control

Centripetal force; this is the force that tries to keep language standardised.

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General terminology

Borrowing- Taking words from other languages due to cultural contact.

Compounding- Sticking two words together to make a new one e.g Newspaper

Grammatical conversion- This is where the word changes from a verb to a noun or vice versa- e.g. Spam ( noun ) - Spamming ( verb )

Blending- Creating words using parts of other words e.g. Spoon + fork= spork

Sociolect- A form of language associated with a social group.

Political correctness- The idea that prejudice or offensive terms should be eradicated from language.

Informalisation- The idea that language becomes less formal over time.

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And for now I give up! I'll probably come back to this later. 

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