The Evolution of Language

I recently watched a movie called Green Street Hooligans which depicts a story based in England. While watching the movie with my older sister, she stated that she had troubles understanding what was being said due to their english accents. For the rest of the movie I paid attention to how the characters spoke. Not only was their accent different than ours in North America, they also used different words; “bollocks” , “rubbish”, “bruvva”. Although “bruvva” would be considered slang even in England, it got me thinking, what is slang? It became obvious that slang wasn’t just some insignificant child talk that I once took it for. Yes, some slang may eventually die off and never be recognized in a dictionary, but surly this is how new words are added to any language. We alter the language almost without realizing, and over time this gets compounded.

When the english came to North America, I believe it’s fair to assume that the english accent and vocabulary was pretty uniform amongst all english speakers. So what happened? Why are we now able to tell someone is from England as soon as a sentence comes out of their mouth? The evolution of language happened. As the english settled in the United States, and were separated from their peers back in England, verbal communication between them was most likely very limited if not eliminated entirely. The English speakers began to morph the language separately. As lifestyles evolved differently in these two places, so did the need for new words to communicate context more effectively. As time went on, they became different enough for us to distinguish someone as British or American simply by their speech.

If we extend this idea over an even greater amount of time, we could see how two different languages could have originated from one seed language. I think Portuguese and Spanish is such an example. I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that they both use so many of the same words, and are also geographically beside one another. It seems reasonable to imagine a group of people who originally spoke the same language, and then split up to different areas (Portugal, and Spain) and over time, the seed language evolved and diverged enough to be considered two entirely different languages.