Presentation on theme: "WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ENGLISH? by MICHAEL SWAN WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ENGLISH? MICHAEL SWAN by."— Presentation transcript:
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ENGLISH? by MICHAEL SWAN WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ENGLISH? MICHAEL SWAN by
All languages change. The English of 500 years ago is hard for us to read, and if we could hear it spoken, we would understand very little… Michael SWAN All languages change. The English of 500 years ago is hard for us to read, and if we could hear it spoken, we would understand very little… Michael SWAN
In which main ways does language (English) change? Grammar Pronunciation Vocabulary
REASONS FOR LANGUAGE CHANGE 1. Phonetic Erosion: Speech production is a complex physical and mental operation, thus, less important syllables easily lose stress and are reduced. Phonetic Erosion has two phases; a. Phonetic Erosion of Syllables Ex: secretary (secretry or secetry) b. Merged Words Ex: going to turns into gonna could have turns into coulda have to turns into hafta
2. Structural Erosion: a. Erosion of Auxiliaries Ex: Ive got turns into I got What do you want? turns into What you want? b. Confusion of Irregular Verb Distinctions Ex: The ship sunk without trace. (sank/sunk) She sung very well yesterday. (sang/sung)
Modals express numerous subtle shades of meaning which can easily become blurred, so that the verbs gradually shift their uses. Michael SWAN Modals express numerous subtle shades of meaning which can easily become blurred, so that the verbs gradually shift their uses. Michael SWAN
c. Modals: Divergence of Meanings Ex: What does the modal may have + past participle refer to? ! Traditionally, it refers to a possibility that something really happened. e.g. (after an accident) They have taken her in for an X-ray – she may have broken her leg. ! Now, it also refers to an unrealised possibility as in You were stupid to go skiing there – you may have broken your leg, whereas older speakers would use might/could have broken.
INNOVATION IN LANGUAGE As the world moves along, old forms of expression get tired and worn out, and speakers of a language – especially younger speakers – seek to brighten things up. Michael SWAN INNOVATION IN LANGUAGE As the world moves along, old forms of expression get tired and worn out, and speakers of a language – especially younger speakers – seek to brighten things up. Michael SWAN
1. The formula I was like, meaning I said was so catchy that it spread through the language very quickly. Ex: I was like You cant do that. She was like Well, Im gonna. 2. set to: 2. set to: It is losing its original meaning and becoming grammaticalised as an auxiliary, used not only for people but also for things and processes. Ex: interests are set to rise pub opening hours are set to change 3. Reintroduction of the Second Person Singular-Plural Distinction Ex: Irish/Scottishyez Southern USyall Now, its becoming common in casual speech to use you guys instead of just you.
PRONUNCIATION and VOCABULARY 1. Pronunciation Swan calls attention to the rapid changes in English pronunciation norms in the last half century and points to how Received Pronunciation was affected in this period. What is Received Pronunciation (RP)? It is the non-regional class-based British accent which had the status of a standard up to the 1960s. According to Swan, RP has lost its prestige and is now spoken by no more than %3 of the population. (So, the norms of pronunciation are also very open to any change and thus, they are changing.)
2. Vocabulary How might vocabulary be affected? The shortage of inflections makes English borrow freely from other languages. The highest proportion of the borrowed words came from French. Apart from this, English also created its own words by affixations. Ex: auto-, eco-, mono-, macro-, inter-, -ology, - cratic etc…
INFLUENCES One national variety can influence another – British English is changing in various small ways under the influence of its powerful American cousin. Michael SWAN
What do we understand by this? INFLUENCE In Swans opinion, another important mechanism of change is INFLUENCE, which closes both British and American English up grammatically. 1. Grammatical and Lexical Influence According to Swan, for example, some British speakers began to use Do you have…? for current possession instead of Have you got…? and He looked like… instead of He looked as if… under the influence of Americans. Some Americans, on the other hand, started to imitate British ways of speaking, using words like sacked for fired, go missing for disappear or at the end of the day for in the end under the illusion of British high culture.
2. Formal and Informal Varieties As Swan puts it, formal and informal varieties also influence each other. For him, in 19th century Britain and America; *The written language had great prestige. *The informal spoken language was regarded as a poor relation. The gap between spoken and written varieties has reduced to a large extent thanks to oral medias rehabilitation of the grammar of speech. For the time being, Swan also asserts that the use of highly informal grammar in s and text messages is further reducing the spoken/written divide. Ex: txt msgs
THE PACE of CHANGE The world has turned into a global village nowadays. In this sense, Swan states, small-scale changes to specific forms are spreading quickly such as was like to mean said from American English to British English in a matter of ten years or so.
However, changes affecting larger linguistic systems can well take centuries to work out. Some examples to this put forward by Swan are as follows; 1. Use of English Progressive: We may even hear utterances like understanding and liking nowadays, although they are not grammatically acceptable. 2. Use of Comparative/Superlative Forms: More and most first took over three-syllable adjectives and are now moving into two-syllable words. 3. Will and would have begun to replace shall and should, although it has taken a long time.
TRACKING CHANGE Swan points up the importance of linguistic research to be able to see what is changing in English. At this point, Swan refers to a recent study by Leech revealing that modal verbs such as may and must are used less frequently than before.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING ABOUT ALL THESE CHANGES? Teachers dont need to worry about such changes as English is not changing quite fast. Most of the language will stay the same for some time to come. We should just be following the innovation in language at times in order not to misinform our students. The authors of language courses, grammars and dictionaries need to be alert to even the smallest changes that are going on.