Survey of the Effects of Technology on Language
By survey, technology and language are inextricably related1, but under what definitions, and how might the relationship fare under stricter ones? In order to understand the affects of Technology on Language, we must first define both Language and Technology as theoretic constructs, as well as the more apparent languages and technologies which shall weigh more heavily as evidence. We look first to the popular definition, wherein Language refers almost entirely to the products of the linguistic capabilities of humans (language, n. (and int.), 2011). However applicable that may be to the general study of languages, it fails to capture an ...view middle of the document...
See (Chomsky, 1955-56) for more on the nature of language, and (Chomsky, Hauser, & Fitch, 2002) for more on defining Language in humans. 3 For example, in the seminal book by Kleene, Introduction of Meta-Mathematics (Kleene, 2009).
formal matter is not partitioned away from the public domain. As such, there is less need to redefine it here. That said, we turn to the use of definitions in the main arguments: Technology on Language, and technologies on languages. Discussion of the theoretic constructs benefits little from the common definitions of either concept, although with Technology, the distinction is much less important. Thus, we have Language, an abstract set of formal grammars, functions, so forth, and Technology, a formalized, logical way of doing things. The two, while clearly related in their need for form and logic, are also uninteresting, as Technology can not affect Language, though it may alter our understanding of it. It is more proper, here, to examine the consequences of theories on Language, and how they affect Technology. It is unfortunate, then, that the ability to capture great generalization conferred by the more abstract definitions also comes with the inability to examine any interaction between the two. If we take the definition, not of Language, but of variety (Green, 2002), (Gregory & Carrol, 1978), we are able to discuss, instead, those aspects of language most relevant, without the formal requirements of defining all language. This affords us several opportunities.
Foremost is the chance to look at the interaction of communities and technology, and the language thereupon built, as we no longer need to examine all of Technology and its effects on all of Language. Before looking at the effects of particular technologies on particular languages, we look instead, then, to advancement in the former and subsequent expansions and branching of the latter.
For the first example, we look to mathematics, a language familiar to most, though its more arcane reaches may not be. This language is defined first and foremost by its need for accuracy, and the formal structure dedicated to this end. This contrasts with the use of natural language 4, in that natural languages are ambiguous5. However, the language of mathematics is built on natural language, giving us such constructs as proof, which means many things to many people, but has only one use in mathematics, and -tuple, which has no uses outside of mathematics, but is reliant on non-mathematical forms to communicate anything. This mirrors a
phenomenon common to language, jargon, in which elements of language becoming highly specialized in order to facilitate communication between people who may not otherwise be able to do so (Sonneveld & Loenning, 1994). However interesting that is, we look now, instead, to the effects of largely, if not primarily linguistic technologies on language. The first of these6, was the advent of orthography. This technology was greatly...