How Is the Internet Changing English? 網路如何改變英語語言?


Twenty years ago this week the British inventor Tim Berners-Lee created the world’s first webpage. It is worth pausing to consider the extraordinary impact that his invention has had on the English language.

Everyday words like google, unfriend and app simply didn't exist in 1990.

Even more words have had unexpected shifts in meaning in those two decades. If you had mentioned tweeting to an English-speaker a few years ago, he would have assumed you were talking about bird noises, not the use of the microblogging site Twitter.

Long ago, if someone lived online, it didn't mean they spent every waking minute on the internet, but that they travelled around with the rail network.

And wireless still means, to anyone of a certain age, a radio - not the system for retrieving internet pages without wires.

"The internet is an amazing medium for languages," said David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at 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."

English is a remarkably inclusive language, and if words continue to be used for at least five years they generally end up in the Oxford English Dictionary.

But less accepted are the peculiar dialects that have sprung up amongst some users. For example, 'LOLcat' is a phonetic, grammatically-incorrect caption that accompanies a picture of a cat, like "I'm in ur bed zleeping".

In an article called "Cats Can Has Grammar" the blogger Anil Dash referred to LOLcat as "kitty pidgin". But does something like LOLcat have the staying power to become an accepted form of English?

Not according to Professor Crystal. "They are all clever little developments used by a very small number of people - thousands rather than millions. Will they be around in 50 years' time? I would be very surprised."


Glossary 辭彙表

  • to unfriend刪除好友
  • app應用程式
  • microblogging微博
  • every waking minute醒著的每一分鐘
  • of a certain age中年的,不算年輕的
  • to retrieve找回
  • medium媒介
  • linguistics語言學
  • to speed up加速
  • inclusive包容廣泛的
  • to end up最終成為
  • to be accepted被接受
  • dialect方言
  • to spring up湧現
  • phonetic語音學的
  • caption(圖片、照片等)說明文字
  • to accompany something伴隨、陪伴某物
  • blogger寫博客的人
  • kitty pidgin像貓語言的混雜語
  • staying power持久力





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