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  • Cláudio Paes De Almeida Neto

Should Languages Change?

This article was written by Cláudio Paes De Almeida Neto, Year 12

At the end of 2023, changes were made to the dictionary with the addition of new words like the common internet slang: “rizz” being amongst the words added, which caused controversy deemed to be the word of the year by Oxford Dictionary. Should the dictionary be changed so freely like this? Should words be added or changed as time goes on? Why do they anyway?

Well, first we need to see why words change in the first place. The dictionary cites that words are changed or added depending on its popularity between people. If a word is very commonly used or said differently than how it is written, it will most likely be changed in the dictionary. It’s the reason why we now use you instead of thou. People simplified the word because of how it was being said and as a result, it was changed in the dictionary.

But should this be common practice? There are people who think it shouldn’t. When interviewed, some students claimed that languages “shouldn’t be changed too much” so that different generations do not have trouble communicating with each other. Now they do have a point! Do you ever feel as though it is difficult to talk to your grandparents sometimes, due to your use of slang that they don’t understand? If language didn’t change, this shouldn’t be a problem at all!But what about on the other side? Other students interviewed claimed that because language is changing, we are able to communicate as easily as we can, claiming that old language used to be “too complicated.” And they have a point too! I myself often had difficulty reading plays by Shakespeare like Othello and Macbeth because of the complicated language, using words like “thee” and “‘tis.” If language didn’t change over time, we’d need to keep on using this complicated language and would have difficulties communicating easily.

So is it right to say that we shouldn’t change words in the dictionary? It’s hard to say, really. Both sides of the argument have their own valid points, which can make you agree with both sides. In the end, it seems like the dictionary will always be constantly changing with our use of the English language, whether we like it or not.


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