How to stay on top of changes in language
It is a well-known fact that languages evolve. While some do it faster than others – Japanese has changed little over the centuries while English has evolved fairly rapidly, for example – the fact remains that they do and if we don’t keep track of those changes, we could be left behind. This month we take a look at how and why languages evolve and how that can have an impact on your business.
Why does language change?
There are all sorts of reasons why this happens. Social, economic, and political factors will influence our language. We are a globalised world and people move around and work in more than one place, often picking up phrases and expressions used in one place and transferring them to another. At the same time, we leave our own mark on the places we visit and pass through.
The rapid changes in technology and the introduction of new industries and products will bring with them new terminology and phrases. Twenty years ago mobile phones did not exist whereas nowadays they are referred to in a variety of ways depending on where you are in the world: mobile phones in the UK, cell phones in the US, and hand phones in Malaysia, for example.
Education, age, and location will also have an impact, not only on how language is used but also on how it changes. Young people often speak very differently to their parents and over time some of those words and phrases are picked up, blending them into everyday language and creating a new way of speaking. Changes can include vocabulary, how sentences are structured, and how words are pronounced and this is before we consider colloquial language – i.e. slang.
How can these changes affect your business?
In putting your message across to your audience, your first purpose is to be understood. There is no use using Shakespeare English today as very few people will know what you are trying to say. Equally, if your audience is younger then you need to adapt your language in order to fully engage them and if you are writing for an older audience the latest slang terms won’t get you far.
Adapting your written materials for technical audiences is also important, particularly if you are dealing with new technologies or industries. Keeping on top of a rapid evolution of vocabulary and technical terms is vital in keeping your audience engaged and demonstrating that you know that world well. If your aim is to introduce new technical concepts to a novice audience, then you must also consider the best way of getting that message across using a mix of technical and simple language.
If you are working in multiple countries and/or multiple languages then being on top of language changes and the latest vocabulary used in your chosen market and by your target audience will go a long way towards increasing your chances of success.
For translations, transcriptions, and interpretation services using local linguists, look no further than Language Link UK. With over 5,000 trained professionals we are well placed to help you and your business succeed in your chosen market. Use our contact form to get in touch and we will take it from there.