Language change occurs for a varying number of reasons. One of the main reasons for language change first occurring was that of colonisation, which is the forced appropriation of a country and its people by another. An example of this is when Trinidad and Tobago was first colonised by the Spanish, the native inhabitants were forced to change their language to Spanish, the mother tongue of their colonisers. As explained in our previous article on the language history of Trinidad and Tobago, our twin island state was conquered by a few different nations, including the French, Dutch and finally the British. For this reason, Trinidad and Tobago has undergone language change in that, the country’s main language changed so many different times, until it remained with the Trinidadian English Creole, which is now spoken countrywide.
Another important reason for which language change occurs has to do with language contact, i.e., languages that come into contact with one another. One instance of this is the formation of Trinidadian English Creole, which was formed due to contact with the different colonial languages. As a result of this, we have in our vocabulary phrases and words that are affected by their influence. One such example is the influence of Bhojpuri, which has influenced the way in which we call the cilantro herb, “bandania”.
One of the most prominent reasons for language change in today’s world would have to most definitely be the needs of speakers. An example of this is the fact that a lot of new vocabulary is required in order to go along with new inventions. The internet is a powerful tool in language change, as it has affected the way in which we write as well as our lexicon, using abbreviations such as “LOL” and “BRB” to describe our actions, instead of spelling them out. According to David Crystal of the University of Bangor, "Language itself changes slowly but the internet has speeded up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly."
Language change is an important phenomenon in our society. What makes it even better, is the mere fact that it happens sometimes without our noticing. Whether its change is due to colonisation, influence of other languages or even something we see on the internet, language change occurs every day and serves as an important part of our society. It enables us to better communicate and also understand our own world on a much deeper level.
Do you have any other examples of how language changes? Let us know in the comments below.