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Technology and Language

by Mitch Tulloch
Aug. 6, 2003

A recent BBC article speculated that recent techlogies like email and text messaging will so transform language that simple words like "hello" and "goodbye" may become obsolete in just a few years.

But is this really something new? I wonder if every technological revolution doesn't impact language in some signficant way. After all, if it wasn't for the invention of the automobile we wouldn't have expressions like "driving me crazy," "slow down," "high maintenance," and "around the bend" to add color to our everday language.

So I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of the impact of different technologies on language? The steam engine, the telegraph, radio, television, airplanes, programmable computers, even the concept of Open Source--which inventions have had the most signficant effects on language and why?

This would make a good Ph.D. thesis for someone...any takers? :)

Mitch Tulloch is the author of Windows 2000 Administration in a Nutshell, Windows Server 2003 in a Nutshell, and Windows Server Hacks.

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