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what lies ahead?

Language Change

Are we ruining English? Even before the Revolution people complained that Americans trash the language. But is it corruption - or simply normal change?
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The Truth About Change
Language changes differently than we may think.  It’s not the media;
it’s the middle class.

Language & Society
In America - as anywhere - language is shaped constantly by contact, conflict and incredible cultural complexity.

slide of northern cities speech area The Sounds, They Are A Shiftin'
Explore changes in regional pronunciation. 

A common misconception about American English is that it is following a single path of change under the irrepressible, homogenizing influence of mass media. The opposite is actually the truth: Language is far too resourceful and social structure far too complicated to follow any single path.

People also often assume that change begins with the upper class, who model language for other social groups to follow. But the facts about this also run contrary to popular belief. Most language change starts subtly and unconsciously in the middle-class, and women often lead the way.

Pressure to change comes both from within language itself and from its role in society. Commonplace conversation, interpersonal interaction and social networks are the venues through which language change takes place. Current evidence indicates that videolanguage diversity is alive and well.

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Sponsored by:

National Endowment for the Humanities Hewlett Foundation Ford Foundation   Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Carnegie Corporation

National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett
Foundation

Ford
Foundation

Rosalind P.
Walter

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Carnegie
Corporation of New York