Language Change - Late Modern English

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  • Created by: mvolpe
  • Created on: 07-04-16 16:47

remember this is not an exhaustative revision guide, these are just the main factors of change (as i see them)


  • this period of rapid change for the population of GB caused an explosive leap forward in language
  • New technical words were added to the public lexicon as new things were invented, normally created by the inventor
  • The standardisation of spelling also lent itself to this era, as it was a time of discovery and revolution
  • Some now commonplace nouns have their roots in the industrial revolution, such as: train, engine, combustion, electricity
  • lots of these were of Latin or Greek origin (yet again), such as 'telegraph' which is made up of 2 greek morphemes "tele" (meaning "far off, operating over a distance") and "graph(y)" (meaning "writing or recording"). It made more sense to inventors to utilise existing language to name their inventions rather than go through the process of thinking up their own word and attempting to coin it
  • there were certain main areas in which the industrial/scientific revolution incited the most rapid change, each of which complement one another in different ways:
  • Fashion: Largely taken from French, words migrated into English from the contintent as GB tried to keep up with Euro-fashion. An example of this is "lingerie", which is a French word meaning 'things made from linen', in turn coming from Old French "linge" meaning 'washables'
  • Food: as international trade increased, different dishes from a variety of countries made their way to the British Isles, and foods such as salami, pasta, cereal, and vermouth became well known to those that could afford them. The aristocracy employed French chefs, who eased the advent of French food becoming a fashionable, upper class indulgence, an idea that still resonates with many people today
  • Leisure: an economic boom from the industrial advancement left more time open to wealthy factory owners, businessmen, and those with ties to industry. Therefore, more new leisure activities sprang up, such as "polo". This was a word imported from Indian (although which originated from Baltic, a Tibetan language spoken in the 'Indus Valley'). It was a game played by the rich upper classes with connections to the colonialised India
  • Medicine: scientific advancements meant that medicine received a stunning jump start, with new names for drugs such as "aspirin", new diseases like "diptheria" which spread from foreign countries, and new tools/equipment like "stethoscope". Medicine's inherent Greek ties are apparent in nearly all medical jargon, for example the disease leukemia can be split into the morphemes "leuk" meaning 'clear, white' and "emia" meaning 'blood'. 
  • Chemistry: as new elements were discovered thanks to the growing popularity of science in the English Renaissance, people needed new names for them and the new compounds they could create with them. For example, palladium was named by an English chemist after an asteroid that fell 2 years earlier ('pallas'). New equipment were named after their inventor, such as the petri dish, created by Julius Petri. He created this piece…


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