How Technology is Changing Language

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Technology has changed the way we do things in our daily lives, and it’s grown at such a rapid pace that we don’t always realise just how far we have come. We’ve started to take things for granted and often forget how we used to do things. Before email and text, communications may have been more personal, but they were also more cumbersome.

It’s not just the mediums through which we communicate that have changed and evolved, however. The actual language that we use to communicate with one another has also changed in line with technology. This is a result of programs such as Skype, IM, texts, Twitter, and WhatsApp. In this fast changing technological world, abbreviations and acronyms have become key to communication, and the names of technology companies have even become verbs, showing just how much of an impact technology has had. Written communication has even been supplemented with emoticons in place of verbal articulation.

Acronyms of note

With so much rapid change and the internet now shaping our vocabularies, it’s difficult to keep up with all the lingo and acronyms that are so heavily relied upon. Here’s a summary of key acronyms to help you interpret communications when you have no idea what’s being said.

Acronym Meaning
2mo / 2moro Tomorrow
2nite / 2n Tonight
BTW By the way
CYA See you later
FWIW For what it’s worth
FYI For your information
GL Good luck
IIRC If I recall correctly
ILY I love you
IMHO In my humble opinion
IRL In real life
GR8 Great
J/K Just kiddin
L8R Later
LOL Laughing out loud
OMG Oh my god
OT Off topic
POV Point of view
ROTFL Rolling on the floor laughing
TTYL Talk to you later
THX Thanks
TMI Too much information
TBH To be honest
WTH What the hell
WYSIWYG What you see is what you get

Acronyms may be the most obvious way that communication has changed as a result of technology and the internet, but there are some other fundamental changes to our language that have also occurred.

For example, Google is a company that was founded to help search the internet, but it has since become much more than that. The term ‘googling’ is now used to describe anything related to searching on the internet, and Google itself has become a worldwide knowledge base and default behaviour when we find ourselves looking for an answer.

Another thing that changed is the way that innovations and industries are being described. Uber has become a massive company with worldwide reach. It has singlehandedly changed the way we think about transport, and has had a dramatic effect on other service economies and the way they serve consumers. The term Uberification or Uberised now denotes anything that has been given an ‘on demand’ spin on its traditional methods. For example, the Uberification of laundry translates to laundry services that are now being offered door to door and on demand. It has become the general term of describing the collaborative consumption economy that’s become such a mainstream component of our daily lives.

The best way to determine and understand how far our language has come and how much it has changed, is to think about how somebody from the mid 1900s would respond to a conversation that sounds like: “If you want to know about whether the landscaping industry has been Uberised yet, just Google it”. This simple phrase highlights how far technology has come and how engrained it now is in our daily life and language.

Another significant impact as a result of technology and its implications on our language is the sheer amount of communication that is being diverted over digital mediums rather than in person (or IRL, for those familiar with the lingo). The abbreviation of words and high speed nature of text and email is having a very real impact on the number of personal and meaningful conversations that are being had. Many lament that in the days prior to social media, friendships were arguably deeper as there wasn’t a realtime feed of people’s personal lives available.

In any case, these changes are here to stay and language is sure to evolve accordingly with further progressions in technological innovation and human interaction.

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