Moulay L. ElBekraoui
DHA 5399 Theory of Electronic Design
The Impact of the Internet on Language
Without a doubt, the Internet is the medium with more significant impact on language usage as well as change than the telegraph, telephone, radio, cinema, and TV all combined. In terms of depth and proportions, this new medium can be equated to the advent of Gutenberg's printing machine in 1436 and to some extent to the Norman invasion in England of 1066. The Internet’s revolution has changed the world, collapsed its distances, and given new powers to individuals, peoples, and nations. This revolution has given a voice to many and offered platforms for new genres to evolve, affecting everything that is societal including language. However, just as any past invention, the Internet's impact on society in general and on language in particular has raised opposing standpoints. From the opposing camp, there are some who think that the Internet threatens language on several levels. First, they argue that the Internet has caused considerable damage in terms of language usage and written proficiency. Second, they contend that the Internet threatens national borders through manifest foreign influence and hegemony. Third, on the level of language oppression, they allege that the Internet threatens the existence of linguistic minorities and the linguistic identity of oppressed communities and nations. The proponents think that the Internet as a flat space promotes learning, democracy, and cultural understanding. They argue that language change is inevitable and cannot be stopped because languages are open systems. Thus, change occurs as long as a language has a speech community. In many circles, including scientific, education, and business communities, English is seen as the lingua franca of the world. The proponents assert that the Internet promotes efficient communication and bridges the gap between cultures and nations. Also, they suggest that, far...