Language changes whether we like it or not. I was forced to pronounce WHEN, WHICH and WHERE with air after the W, even though nobody I knew did it. But that was considered correct when I was young. And, as we know, what is considered correct is the language of prestige. Knowing how to speak with this diction and grammar allows us to present a certain image which may be instrumental in getting a job or influencing someone.
But language has very natural processes of change and assimilation. For example, we pronounce the ED after WALK as a T and the ED after ROB as a D. This is because the K and T are both voiceless (and the B and D are both voiced,) and it is easier to say two voiceless or two voiced sounds together rather than mixing them up. This is a natural pronunciation rule. We can also look at how grammar changes, such as the subjunctive in English – IF I WERE YOU. Since we have few cases of the SUBJUNCTIVE in English, there is a tendency to standardize the grammar. So it is now common to hear IF I WAS YOU instead of using the word WERE.
The following article discusses how language changes and some of the things we can expect over the years. Interesting…
Your New York Accent Is Going to Disappear
Last year, the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year was vape. It’s relatively new, as far as words go: It first appeared in an article in 1983 in connection with a then-hypothetical device. Other contenders for the Oxford nod included “bae” and “normcore,” and, as vapid as they might seem, each of these new words represents a linguistic evolution.
The way we communicate changes rapidly — English is now the language of any business school curriculum in Korea, and in 100 years it might be spoken everywhere. Or it might be wiped out by the language of a new world power. To predict how we’ll communicate in the future, we turned Dr. Gregory Guy, who specializes in language variation and change.
How does language typically change over time?
Well, the main thing about language change is that it’s not evolutionary in the sense of acquiring new capabilities. Sound systems change, words turn over, and syntactic structures change without any sense of improvement. So inevitably things will change, but without any sort of directionality.
So the change is arbitrary?
There are a couple of areas in which there are some general principles. So certain kinds of sound change are very common. When you have a sound like p, t, or k between two vowels, the common change is to make it b, d, or g. So you start out with a pronunciation like lit-tle, which is the way the British say that word, and you end up with an American-English pronunciation like lid-dle. That’s a very natural kind of change. Going the opposite direction would be extremely unusual.