Technology unarguably has changed the universe. Dating back to ancient times, man virtually existed at the mercy of nature where things like far distance traveling was somewhat of an effort than an adventure like it is today. Also, it wouldn’t speak well of us as humans, if we failed to acknowledge the coziness it has introduced into our daily lives.
However, it’s wise to step out of the cheering crowd in order to have a clearer view of what’s going on. And in respect to technology, this is no different as a lot of human elements has been changed over the course of years, without people even noticing, elements like language (mode of communication).
Now the question is, has technology changed language? Well if you’ve ever pondered on the authenticity of this question, then am glad to announce to you that you’re at the right place, as efforts will be made in ascertaining whether or not technology has had an effect on human language.
Meaning of Technology and Language
To have a better understanding of what we are going to be discussing here, it’d be right if we first knew the definition of the two key terms, “technology” and “language”. As defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary, technology is the methods for using scientific discoveries for practical purposes, especially in industries, while language is defined as ‘the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.’
Now, on taking a closer look at the definition of the two concepts, you’d agree with me that they both are “methods”, and there is certainly no way one method can override the other without making an alteration. However, in respect to this article, we are going to view language in general, from both the denotative and connotative angle, in order to do total justice to the question in hand.
Effect of Technology on Language
Before we proceed, as stated earlier, the concept of language here represents the mode of communication to which humans have evolved over the years in different areas. Now, you would agree with me that some years back, during the days of our forefathers, tools like blogging or social media were things that barely existed.
People during that era, shared their thoughts to the public, (what we do now on our Facebook status), through writing articles and publications, which sprouted out great authors and philosophers like the great Aristotle, Shakespeare, George Orwell, to mention but a few.
Also, during that time, communication from one party to the other was made through writing letters, and it might be that that was one of the core reasons why ethics was really upheld during that era. In ancient times, before you could communicate with a friend, family member or any elderly acquaintance somewhere, you’d have to meticulously write down every single piece of information you wish to convey in that letter. And this invariably promoted the culture of diligence and discipline amongst the people of that time because unlike in this tech-controlled generation, where people now write in abbreviations, like in writing “to” as “2” and a bunch of others, writing in the appropriate way then, promoted the spirit of good ethics & discipline.
Another aspect where technology could be seen altering the stands, is in the aspect of learning. Again, if we look back across the years, you’d notice the drift in the mode of learning.
Prior to the advent of technology, students often studied in physical libraries either in their various schools or outside, and while this might still seem to be the same today, it will surprise you to know that virtually every book today now have soft copies, in what is now known as “e-books”, which offers student the ample excuse to skip going to the library.
Now, what’s the impact? Today, student show nonchalant attitude towards going to the libraries to read or rent books because they know that they could easily do that in the comfort zone of their homes. Now while this may seem as the right thing to do, nevertheless, the students of today, unlike those of the past are less productive. Why? The answer is simple, technology has changed the educational language from the enthusiastic and focus mode of physical learning, to a lackadaisical mode of e-learning, invariably causing students to be less productive, at least for the most part of them.
Philosophy of Language
Things have changed a lot, and this includes the mode through which people accord respect. In ancient times heavy respect were paid to writers and scholars because they were deemed as the “eyes” of the people. This was so because, most people drifted towards acquiring more knowledge education. However, things have changed today, as technology has altered the language of philosophy from learning to frivolities.
In our generation of today, we can see TV idols, models, and sets of other superficial group of people gaining more respect and fame than authors, a thing that would never have happened centuries ago. Okay let’s face it, how many authors have you heard of today or how many books have you read in the past few months? And how many TV idols do you not know of? So, it wouldn’t be far from the truth if we said that the advent of technology has caused a drift in the philosophy of man over the years, in terms of what or whom should be respected.
Language as per Language
Considering the denotative meaning of language, technology has clearly played a course in its alteration. Using English language as a case study, if you speak to a person in the 90s, he or she may barely understand or have a clue of what you’re because words have changed in their meaning across the years. For instance, a word like ‘drone’ which was formally known to be an irritating noise, is now known to be a small pilot-less aircraft that hovers over our heads.
So imagine going to your grandfather to say, ‘hello grand dad, I just got myself a new drone!’ Now at first, he might just think to himself, ‘maybe my grandson is drunk or something,’ because to him, the last time he checked, drone meant an irritating noise. Also, a word like ‘spam’ which originally meant a strange tinned meat product, now is often taken as representing unwanted emails or messages. Furthermore, other languages like in the programming field, keeps changing from time to time, due to the advent in technology.
So in a nutshell, after carefully reading through the above points, ask yourself this, truly, has technology changed language? Certainly it has. I mean, it’s clearly obvious that language has been a victim of technology ranging from how people communicate to the way words now have diverse meanings. In addition, our way of thoughts has also been altered because prior to the advent of technology, man believed in working hard to achieve whatever he or she wanted, unlike the dependency philosophy of our youths today.
Privacy too was a key factor during the non tech era, as no one could go on Facebook to post about his/her love life, work or progress. Now to really understand how deep technology has influenced man’s language, try talking to your aged parents of how you would love to sync or create a new Gmail for them, and see their reaction.
A lot has changed, it’s almost as if technology has left some people behind, and if you choose not to follow it, you might as well just end up basking in the ocean of ignorance. So what’s the way forward? How can this predicament be at least reduced, before it gets out of hand?
Well, I believe for this to be tackled, we should from time to time go off social media platforms and at least communicate verbally with our loved ones and friends, especially the elderly, because through this, the basis of language will start being reformed, to how it was before. You mustn’t Skype all the time, sometimes make that little effort of paying the person a visit, who knows, you could save a life from drowning, because believe it or not, most people in contrary to the all glittering post they make, are wallowing in depression and sadness.
Just because the world now speaks through social medias, people don’t wont to be viewed as being left out, as such portray fake lives that don’t match their reality. So while making use of technology, always try at some point to imbibe our past traditional mode of communication (language) so as to balance the gap between technology and language. If we do this, the world would certainly regain it’s lost virtues, code of conduct, and a common language ultimately as it was before the coming of technology. Let’s not forget that language is part of our identity, as such it should remain a unique element rather than a dynamic one.