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  1. #1
    psrivas1 is offline Newbie
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    Change in English

    Can English change suddenly. For example. Suddenly English might change suddenly One day so that the words might start meaning opposite of what they mean today. So left might start meaning what right means today. Please help me with this.

  2. #2
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Change in English

    What makes you ask this bizarre question, psrivas1?

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    Re: Change in English

    Suddenly is too strong a word, but languages sometimes change rapidly. A good example in English is provided by the word gender. When I was a lad gender was a property of words only. It was never applied to people. When it was first applied to people I felt it was merely a euphemism used by those who were uncomfortable with the word sex. But it rapidly evolved into the meaning it has today.

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    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Change in English

    Quote Originally Posted by psrivas1 View Post
    Please help me with this.
    NOT A TEACHER

    1. Yes, you are right. Sometimes a word changes its meaning. But it is not sudden. It might take a long time.

    2. If someone tells you that you are very nice, you would consider that a compliment. But hundreds of years ago, the word "nice" meant something like "stupid."

    a. When you have time, please google these words click here for an article that will explain the change: The Not-So-Nice Origins Nov. 25, 2015
    Last edited by GoesStation; 20-Apr-2021 at 19:03. Reason: Add hyperlink.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Change in English

    Change can be rapid- check out the great vowel shift. Also, technology has created thousands and thousands of new words. I graduated from university without using a computer - I played on one for an hour . This is an unimaginable world to people who have grown up with IT as a part of their life, and hard for me to actually remember. Words can become auto-antonyms- bad can mean good. Twenty years ago, people were arguing that email should be uncountable like mail, I don't hear anyone arguing that I sent ten emails is wrong today. Language changes and adapts because we change and adapt and need to communicate. English can, like any living language, change suddenly.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Change in English

    Living out of the English-speaking world for twenty-three years now, I am very aware of this. Despite a healthy diet of English newspapers, radio, films, TV and books, daily participation in this forum, regular chats with family and friends, and an average of at least a month a year on the UK (until Covid), I have become increasingly aware of how out of touch I am with the natural, normal spoken English of today. I steer clear of questions here about the acceptability of some words and phrases lest* my response might seem hopelessly out of date.

    * I wonder how many native speakers use that word naturally these days.

  7. #7
    probus's Avatar
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    Re: Change in English

    Personally I am very fond of lest but I think AmE tends to strongly prefer constructions using unless.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Change in English

    You will not beat Lest we forget.

  9. #9
    probus's Avatar
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    Re: Change in English

    True. It's the sort of thing we chisel into granite.
    Last edited by probus; 22-Apr-2021 at 20:44. Reason: Add period

  10. #10
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Re: Change in English

    Quote Originally Posted by psrivas1 View Post
    Can English change suddenly? For example, Suddenly English might change suddenly someday so that the words might start meaning the opposite of what they mean today. So left might start meaning what right means today. Please help me with this.
    Welcome, Psrivas!

    As you can see from the answers above, it depends on what you mean by "suddenly."

    Yes, words can sometimes flip meanings. For instance, read this article about "amusing, awful, and artificial": Saint Paul's Cathedral

    But more often, words simply shift a little bit over decades. Words whose meanings have changed slightly since I was a kid include awesome, loan, they, and home.

    But you asked for help. Exactly what do you need help with?
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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