Women in Technology

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Weblog:   Technology and Language
Subject:   Metaphors and Categorization
Date:   2003-08-08 10:01:18
From:   mitchtulloch
Response to: Metaphors and Categorization

True, but fashions are a signficant part of vocabulary. Have you read any Raymond Chandler? His novels seem like 80% cliche, 20% normal speech, and they were hugely popular in their era.


Anyway, I still wonder if anyone has begun a long-term study to track syntax/vocabulary shift in response to recent technological change, particularly with regard to comunication tools like email and text messaging. In everyday communication of all forms are sentences becoming shorter and simpler in construction? Are certain grammatical elements disappearing? Is word frequency changing? How is this measured and analyzed?


And at a historical level, can you correlate certain techologies with similar shifts? Sentences were generally much longer and more complex in the 19th century, did the telephone or some other technology change this? How would you guage the historical impact of such inventions on language from a research point of view? How would you "isolate the variables"?


And looking towards the future, what could be the possible *value* of predicting language change in response to current and envisioned technological advance? Could it help us better design future communications technologies to make them friendlier? Is it advantageous to design technologies to minimize semantic shift or maximize it? And finally, what's the answer to that last question from the point of view of different business sectors including the industries that generate change and careers like therapists that manage it? :)

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  • Metaphors and Categorization
    2003-08-14 07:34:17  anonymous2 [View]

    > Is word frequency changing? How is this measured and analyzed?

    One simple (and perhaps naive) method would be to go to google, and do word searches, and record the hit counts. This is, in fact, an interesting way to check spelling: which form is more widely represented in the world of the web ? Take the more widely represented form as the "correct" form.

    > Sentences were generally much longer and more complex in the 19th century, did the telephone or some other technology change this?

    Yet another hypothesis, just invented by myself, might be that familiarity with Latin language literature caused a tendency towards longer and more complex sentences, and the decreasing familiarity with same caused a decreasing average length and complexity.

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