How changes in language reflect a changing world

It's only words…or is it?

by Psychologies


Our world has undoubtedly changed since the 1800s, and so too has our language, but have we?

A recent study from the University of California that analysed 1.5 million British and American books of every genre printed between 1800 and 2000, found evidence through our change in language usage to prove that our cultural ideals have drastically changed too.

An increase in the use of words such as ‘choose’ and ‘get’ (and the decline of ‘obliged’ and ‘give’) show our growing materialistic values and wealthier lifestyles, while the more frequent use of words such as ‘self’, ‘unique’ and ‘individual’ show our new focus on inner mental life.

One reason the study cited for the change is the move, over centuries, from predominantly rural, low-tech societies to predominantly urban, high-tech societies.