The Evolution of Language in Modern Society Term Paper by scribbler

The Evolution of Language in Modern Society
A discussion on how changes in the English language reflect changes in society as a whole.
# 152967 | 1,108 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 01, 2013 in Language (English: Linguistics) , Sociology (General) , Linguistics (General)

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The paper discusses how verbal symbols manifest culture through the way they symbolize prejudicial attitudes or descriptions of diversity, and demonstrates how language therefore evolves through diversity and culture. The paper then describes the dumbing down phenomena in language that takes terminology and makes it androgynous, ambisexual, or downright insulting. Specifically, the paper discusses how the phrase "you guys" is indicative of the way that modern society has selectively and continuously allowed masculine terminology to creep into common usage. The paper concludes that language has understandably evolved over 1,000 years and just as there were different phrases and convections in Victorian England, so too must we allow our own language to follow culture and fluidly evolve with the times.

From the Paper:

"We know language is far more than speech, and far more than verbiage and repetitive patterns. To date, scientists have found that a number of different species engage in vocal behavior that appears to have some meaning to members of its own species (crows, cetaceans, etc.). It is the higher-level of reference, the ability to refer to things or states of being that are not immediately apparent or abstract that forms the basis for the theory of mind in human communication (Hauser, Chomsky and Tecumseh). Two key features in human language are recursion and questioning. Recursion is taking phrases and using them as units, "The man with the rusty old car was a danger to himself and others because he could not see the road well, let alone handle his car." Chimpanzees can learn some rudimentary language and can answer questions, but rarely can pose them in a complex way. However, even human children can, almost from toddler stage, lapse into questioning more than answering (Everett).
"We also know that language is fluid; it evolves based on cultural stimuli. Words become out of date and are not used - especially slang or idioms that have a particularly robust meaning for the time period. Think of petticoat, dowry, even girdle. Phrases, too, change in their meaning really proving that language is most definitely part of fad and fashion."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Allen, S. "Beowulf." March 2008. September 2010 <>.
  • Bilger, A. "The Common Guy." 2010. BitchMedia. November 2010 <>.
  • Bowdle and Gentner. "The Career of Metaphor." Psychological Review 112.2 (2005): 193-216.
  • Everett, D. "Cultural Constraints on Gramma and Cognition." Current Anthropology 46.4 (2005): 634-8.
  • Hauser, Chomsky and Tecumseh. "The Faculty of Language: What is It, Who Has It, and How Did it Evolve?" Science 298.34 (2002): 1569-79.

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