Factors That Have Influenced Changes in the English Language over the Past 100-200 Years



Generation changes and the invention of new technologies have made the acquisition of knowledge more accessible and made the world a global village. Although this is a positive achievement, this has also brought several negative issues in which languages, more so English to be a causality (Knowles, 2014).  The generation difference has led to evolution on how people pronounce words or twist (case of slang) those to have a different meaning has dramatically affected the English language. These changes can be observed in lexis (words), semantics (meaning of words), phonology (sound), and syntax (grammar) (Nagel, 2020). Many factors have resulted in changes in the English language ranging from political, social, cultural, technological, and moral aspects.

Technological factors

Continuous technology innovation has made most gadgets used to come with different specs; thus, for one to comfortably use them, they are forced to learn the new languages that accompany these gadgets (Short, Fidelman & Louguit, 2012). use of the internet which has made use of words such as “Google” or “Face-booking,” a new normal (Shyamlee & Phil, 2012).

The Oxford Dictionary recently added abbreviations such as LOL, BFF, IMHO, and OMG (that’s laughing out loud, best friends forever, in my humble opinion, and oh my God) to the SMS text vocabulary, endorsing the acronyms used by multitudes in texts, letters, and instant conversations (Knowles, 2014).

Political factors

Due to political instability or looking for greener pastures, people migrate from their home countries where they were using fluent. They move to non-English speaking countries where they are forced to adopt a new native language, thus dropping English or introducing it to the new place of migration, which may be distorted to fit into their culture and how they communicate and talk (Mair & Leech, 2020).

Cultural factors

Exposure of the English language to various media such as television, magazines, newspapers, fashion, film, etc., which have a specific “code” of communication, has signed over the years resulted in continued mutilation of the English language (Zarei, Pourghasemian & Khalessi, 2019).

Social factors

Language changes result from social developments; in other words, once a society begins to change, language change creates unique implications. Some people have social power, and money will have better education and exposure, which will make them perceive things differently and their terminology and expressions than those perceived to belong to a lower social structure (Nagel, 2020). This will affect their occupation, level of education, income, and type of residence, which brings about the innovation of new coding languages to differentiate the various social classes. For example, Individuals who are impoverished and cannot access education or grew up in a rural location where perfect grammar was not promoted will not be as eloquent in their speech as someone of more excellent status (Calvillo–King et al. 2013).

Foreign factors

Over the years, words have been borrowed from different languages and incorporated into the dictionary due to their wide use. For instance, the Italian word pizza did not reach English until the meal to which it alludes was adopted by English-speaking communities. Similarly, the term glasnost was taken from Russian to describe a policy of openness and frankness in the Soviet (Jenkins & Leung, 2013).




Calvillo–King, L., Arnold, D., Eubank, K. J., Lo, M., Yunyongying, P., Stieglitz, H., & Halm, E. A. (2013). Impact of social factors on risk of readmission or mortality in pneumonia and heart failure: systematic review. Journal of general internal medicine, 28(2), 269-282. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-012-2235-x

Jenkins, J., & Leung, C. (2013). English as a lingua franca. The companion to language assessment, 4, 1605-1616. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118411360.wbcla047

Knowles, G. (2014). A cultural history of the English language. Routledge.

Mair, C., & Leech, N. (2020). Current changes in English syntax. The handbook of English linguistics, 249-276. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119540618.ch14

Nagel, J. (2020). American Indian ethnic renewal: Politics and the resurgence of identity. American Nations, 330-353.

Short, D., Fidelman, C., & Louguit, M. (2012). Developing academic language in English language learners through sheltered instruction. Tesol Quarterly, 46(2), 334-361. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.20

Shyamlee, S., & Phil, M. (2012). Use of technology in English language teaching and learning: An analysis. In International Conference on Language, Medias and Culture (Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 150-156). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05383-3

Zarei, G. R., Pourghasemian, H., & Khalessi, M. (2019). English language cultural bias in the process of globalization: analysis of Interchange Series. ZABANPAZHUHI (Journal of Language Research), 10(29), 151-178. https://dx.doi.org/10.22051/jlr.2017.14821.1307


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