David Crystal – How is the Internet Changing Language Today?

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Technology always changes a language. When printing came in in the 1400s, it changed the language. New styles developed, new spelling, new punctuation systems and so on. When the telephone came in in the nineteenth century, it changed the language new patterns of dialogue came into being. When broadcasting started in the 1920s, it changed the language. Think of all the styles in the broadcasting medium that we didn’t have before like sports commentary and news reading and weather forecasting and chat shows and all of that.

And when the internet came into being, it changed the language but nobody, I think, ever expected the language to be so diversified as a result of the internet, simply because nobody was able to predict exactly how many different technological variations that were going to be of electronically mediated communication. I mean just think there’s the World Wide Web, there’s email, there’s chat room, there’s virtual world, the the Dungeons & Dragons games that people play as blogging. There’s instant messaging, there’s social networking sites now like YouTube and Facebook, there’s twittering, there’s mobile phone texting and it goes on and on and on.

Now each one of these new technologies or new opportunities for communication produces a new kind of language. In the case of English, a new style of English, the language we use, when we’re blogging is not the same as the language we use when we’re instant messaging. So we can go on through all these different mediums and point to new styles of English that are emerging as a consequence. The actual language itself hasn’t changed that much. It isn’t the case that as you look through these different technological manifestations of English, you see new grammar for instance. We don’t get new patterns of grammar emerging, new types of verb ending or anything like that nor is there that much new vocabulary.

Actually, I mean a few hundred new words have come into English as a consequence of the internet, but that’s not very many considering more than a million words that there are in English. New pronunciations not really, new punctuation yes a bit though. You do certainly get new features of punctuation arriving on the internet emoticons for example being used in clever ways. People using punctuation in an exaggerated form that they never used to do before, simply because you can hold the key down.

People can say fantastic exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark, exclamation mark and it can go on and on and on and on and on for as long as you like. So there are a few novelty features like that, but on the whole you look at a screen and what you see on the screen is the same kind of English language that you saw before the internet came into existence. Except now there are these new styles to exploit. The language has become expressively richer as a result of the Internet.

Source: Macmillan Education ELT Channel on Youtube


  1. In my opinion, with the new language style changing from the impact of technology, it is very good. because it makes it easier for people to talk to each other. in my opinion the existence of a new language style can distract people when speaking seriously and not seriously. and with the changing style of new languages, surely we must use them properly and correctly.

  2. in the video I learned that technology about learning English because it can make to know English more in depth, because many people are not too fluent in English with the existence of English habahsa translet technology can make it easier for people who are not fluent in English.

    and. because in English there are different pronunciation or language for example such as British and American style. so people who do not understand English become able to know the difference in English.

    and I like learning English because the English translet application can make it easier for me to learn English.

  3. In my opinion the new language style changing from the impact of technologi that’s very important for the development of the time’s at this time.becahse it make’s easler for people to talk to each. Other and because many people who are not to fluent in English whit English translate language technology can make it casier for people who are not fluent English.

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