Language is Always Changing

We often think of our language as being very fixed. We were all taught grammar rules in school, right? Rules can’t change!

But, over a long period of time, from generation to generation, languages do change. Your children will speak differently than your parents or your grandparents.

A few years ago, if something was ‘lit’ it was literally on fire. Now, it’s become the cool way to say that something is really, well… cool. But it’s not just ‘the kids’ who change language. I bet you weren’t saying “I need to Marie-Kondo my living room” 12 months ago! Go back a few decades, and ‘gay’ meant lively and happy. Go back further still, and ‘awful’ meant awe-inspiring. Interesting, right?

Language doesn’t just change by adding new words or by changing the meaning of existing words, though. The pronunciation of words can change too. It’s one reason why different accents came to be. And this is where a lot of spelling ‘idiosyncrasies’ (‘peculiar or individual’) have come in.

The English language had a particularly big pronunciation shift (they call it ‘The Great Vowel Shift’) around the 15th Century. This had a particularly large impact on English spelling, as the changes in pronunciation were happening just as the printing press was gaining momentum.

The spread of printing started to fix spellings in place, because what was once only communicated orally had to be written down on paper. Once these spellings were set on paper, the pronunciations kept changing – which is why we often pronounce words differently from how they look like they should be said!  

It’s not hard to see how all of these differences between pronunciation and spelling can make learning to read and write really tricky! If you are concerned about your child’s reading and writing ability, we’re here to support.

Give us a call today on (02) 4948 9800 to discuss how a Speech Pathologist can help, or email us at info@newcastlespeechpathology.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

-Bec