Where are the words going? Feb 04, 2014

With time, development takes place bringing in new technology and innovation, yet what has been overlooked is that along with advancement there comes the loss of tradition and cultural linguistic treasures. In recent studies, it has been discovered that words created within the last decade are more commonly used in comparison to those of the past because of the increased use of spellcheckers and social media.

These studies have shown that the death rate of words has increased with new additions of past slang terms being brought to spellcheckers. One study allowed for a close Google-connected analysis of over ten million words. Discoveries using those words indicated a rapid change and diminution dating back twenty-five years ago. The growing movement and progression of words has researchers looking at patterns as well as frequency within differing forms of media.

Furthermore, now that four percent of the world’s books are online and in digital print, writing dating back to the sixteenth century is being explored. Textual analysis has found researchers pouring over seven of the most widely used languages including English and Spanish. The analysis of literature is becoming simpler and simpler with opportunities in analyzing trends within the literature field arising each day.

Concentrating on the repetitiveness as well as recurrence of words allows social analysts to see which ones are no longer in use. Yet, unlike animal extinction, words can be resurrected and brought back to life. However, a tendency to use short words has caused longer words to gradually fade. Typically, a word takes about forty years before making it into a standardized dictionary, because it has been hypothesized that it is within forty years that a word will either spread or disappear.

Progressively, with time, connections and links are being made between what events affect language, and how language is influenced by culture. Key events are often tied to a word’s increase just like popular fads. One common trend this year was taking pictures of oneself, and this eventually led to Oxford University Press’s announcement on “selfie” being the word of the year.

Currently, with a cultural movement in society towards the growth of languages, words are disappearing, and in order to preserve their use, they need to be revivified. If they’re no longer used, there is a loss that is generated. With culture, there will be a constant change in languages exhibiting how a society is evolving.

Now, if we want our words to die out within a decade or two, we can let things slide and continue utilizing our handy spellcheckers. Yet, if a word does go out of existence, and we want to bring it back into use, it’s facile: just use it.

By: Kaushar Mahetaji

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