The Effects Of The Internet Age On English

Effect of Internet Age

English as a language has existed in various forms for over 1,000 years, brought over by Anglo-Saxons. With the abundance of English language films and television shows that have taken the world by storm in terms of popularity, combined with the fact that English often ends up being the lingua franca of business, it’s not surprising to find out there are an estimated 1.5 billion speakers of English in the world.

With the increasing use of the internet in recent years as well, there is often what could be new forms of English appearing. Consider for example, that the English you speak is likely not the English you write, which in turn is unlikely to be like the English you use on social media or in texts with friends.

Internet English is often an amalgamation of English and emoji. Instead of explaining their emotions or how they’re feeling, people will often use the corresponding emoji which is understood almost immediately by the recipient. When combined with chat speak such as ‘lol’ and shortened spellings, it can lead to a language that looks English in name only.

There are benefits to the use of emoji however, when speaking verbally there are queues in the way someone speaks from their body language to the tone of their voice that indicates whether they are happy or unhappy. But sarcasm is almost impossible to truly understand when written down, which could lead to unintended offense. A smiling emoji often helps to let the recipient know that the original is joking, or isn’t angry.

Emoji’s Affecting English Grammar?

Younger people are prone to using these forms of communication, which perhaps makes sense considering they are often people who have literally grown up with the increase in technology. But while it allows people to be more expressive with their written language, it could also be leading to a reduction in English skills.

A survey of 2,000 people aged between 16 to 65 by YouTube revealed that 94% agreed that there has been a decline in what is deemed the correct use of English recently. An equally high number, four out of five, felt that young people were the worst offenders of this.

But what is surprising is that emoji are not only being relied on by younger people to express themselves, but almost three quarters of adults said that they are depending on emojis to communicate with others.

For organisations, it is important that their employees maintain a level of spelling and grammar that is considered business worthy. It is perhaps unlikely that new business will be won if emails are full of misspellings and emoji that would look more at home on Twitter. As such, it may be advisable for employees to be aware that formal English is still required when sending emails and to ensure that people know what this is.

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Could Emoji And The Internet Age Have Serious Consequences?

The irony of the rise of emoji across the world is that it could be considered to be leading people to adopting a pictorial language once more. Almost 5,000 years ago, the earliest examples of writing could be found in the form of pictographic hieroglyphs and cuneiform with the alphabetic writing system only emerging thousands of years later by the Phoenicians.

This slowly died out over the centuries, until the rise of emoji once more. Emoji aren’t the only forms of pictorial language that we understand, for example it’s likely that a circle with either a cross through it or a line would be understood anywhere in the world as no entry.

For anyone worrying that English may be seriously threatened however, it’s worth remembering that English as a language is well over a millennium old. Not only this, but Old English bears almost no resemblance to the English we see today as it is a language that adapts itself very easily.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, English is likely to have the most words in any language because is easily adopts words from other languages. A Germanic language originally, we use many French and Latin words from Norman French and Church or scholarly influence. With the rise of globalisation, it is even more ready to integrate foreign words into itself with commonly used words such as sushi, espresso, siesta, pyjamas, curry and many more all having non-English origins.

So, it’s unlikely we truly must worry about the demise of English as a language and perhaps we should consider emoji to just be another extension that can be used for expression. But perhaps keep it out of professional emails unless invited to use it! 👍👍

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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