Author: Valencia Lee
Words are beautiful. They convey emotions using simple sentences, complex phrases, and everything else in between. The writer can simply choose to use words as their advantage for a specific description of an item, or they can use small annotations to speak their mind, or they can leave everything up to the imagination of the readers. Words can hurt, they can also be uplifting, they can build something up from within us subconsciously, they can run free in our minds as however we wish to interpret them. Words as simple as “I’m feeling… okay.” can mean so much to the reader. Are they hurt? Are they recovering from an injury? Are they simply stating their mind? The stories we can make using the words on a screen can mean so much to someone.
With words comes languages. Language is an important part of our everyday lives, as we need them to communicate with the people around us. Language isn’t only limited for the people within a country as a country can have multiple sub-languages, like Indonesia with 710 living languages. Anyone can learn any language if they’re dedicated to it. Today, 7,139 registered languages are being spoken by people all around the world (Ethnologue, 2021), meaning there must be even more languages that we still haven’t discovered yet. This makes you think, doesn’t it? Think about how complex the human mind is to make up words with different meanings, different pronunciations, for different parts of the world. With that aside, English is considered as one of the main languages of the world, the others being Chinese and Spanish. About 20% of the Earth’s population speaks English (Lyons, 2021). As it is foreign to a lot of people, the process of learning it requires a lot of resources, whether they are books or other reading resources, a reliable teacher, a friend to practice daily conversations with, there are various ways to sharpen our communicating skills. Luckily, one of the countless inventions that has helped the modern times evolve and survive would be the making of the internet.
The internet is an interesting place. Mountains of content can be found throughout different and unique webpages and apps. Informative, useful, entertaining, comedic, heart breaking, touching, you name it, everything is on the internet. A quick Google search can be informative. A chatting session with a friend can lift one’s spirit, a call with a family member can bring upsetting news. A tweet from an influencer can change the perspective of thousands of people.
The internet is a big influence towards a lot of things, but I’d like to direct our attention towards the changes it has made to the English language. As of January 2020, English is the most used language on the internet. Representing 25.9%-27% of worldwide internet users (Johnson, 2021), and with an estimate of 54% English content (Anil, 2018), English will surely have an impact towards the state of the internet, and vice versa.
The internet is a place of changes, an example of the statement would be the difference of English that was used for texting back in 2010’s and the 2020’s. We tend to see a lot more expressions using text, whether it be using symbols or simply changing the way we type out a word. Dialects from all over the world and regions can be used to show the personality of someone through a change of the way they text.
People on the internet has found a lot of ways to convey various emotions through the format of words. Using the CAPS LOCK FEATURE TO TYPE A SENTENCE MAY LEAVE AN IMPRESSION THAT WE ARE SHOUTING. A dash of bold through the text can show an important part of a message we need to send, and using s p a c e s in between the letters can show that we are e x a g e r r a t i n g or i m p l y i n g something (Steinmetz, 2019).
What does the two paragraphs above mean, exactly? How does one showing emotions and dialects through text can help us familiarize ourselves with English?
As a person that uses English daily as a second language, the internet has helped me immensely with learning new terms. It could be from a simple Google search, such as “definition of manic”, or “difference between blond and blonde”, or from a language-learning app like Duolingo. However, one thing that has helped me familiarize myself with the slangs and terms of English would be online friends.
The thing about online friends is that they can come from anywhere. I have had friends from Sweden, Canada, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, America, and the Netherlands just to name a few. Some of them are like me; learning English as a second language. By now, I am pretty sure you can see the connection. Having friends from a country that primarily speaks English as a guide can be very helpful, with the addition of having other learners as friends can help us explore the depths of the English language together, making it fun to use and learn. The use of different forms and format of texts can help non-English speakers to help identify the meaning or the tone of a word. See how the involvement of the internet has helped us with learning English?
Another way of learning the necessary skills for a conversation could be found on an app or web, something like Grammarly, where the program fixes incorrect grammar and typos, and giving better alternatives for essays, emails, and papers. It gives users new understandings of other phrases and words than can be used to be more precise.
We can see how the internet’s use of English also has a massive impact on the real world. Another example would be Wikipedia; a free, open content online encyclopaedia created by the collaborative effort of a community of users. It is used by people in the academic community, although it also has sub-communities where they focus on something else. The English Wikipedia was founded on 15 January of 2001, marking it as the first ever version of Wikipedia, with 54,198,081 total pages on it today. The existence of the English Wiki has helped a humongous number of students, professors, and workers alike daily (TechTarget, 2016).
Wikipedia is most likely used for reading informative content, but did you know that the English community has made other ways to enjoy reading and learning English for those who dislike reading dry, plain texts? There is a thing on the internet called fanfictions, where users make stories from their imagination based off a fandom and publish it to a site or an app where others with similar interests can read it. Reading fanfictions can help oneself improve writing skills and apply it by making their own content, forming a cycle of learning, self-improvement, and sharing the knowledge to others.
From the amount of educative contents we can find, the videos on YouTube, the games that has personally helped me develop English better than school did, the reading resources of any kind, the movies, to the friends we can make and chat with, learning English surely has its own benefits. Mastering the basics and dedicating ourselves to learn the next levels can unlock new things for us; new content, new understandings, and quite possibly, new motivation to learn similar languages like Dutch or German. By taking the first step of learning English or any language in general, you are subconsciously opening new opportunities for yourself. The internet is here to help you take those steps and guide you towards a better you.
The English language is vast and unpredictable, unique to its own. The internet is a world of its own, providing us with resources for each day in various ways. When these two collide and make something out from within itself, it produces massive changes to the environment and various social media around them. With it, humans have learned how to teach and give. They have made videos and memes with English slangs and terms to educate and humour people. They have significantly changed the world for the better with games, platforms, and influencers that uses English.
I hope that with English being the dominant language on the internet, it can bring new users and learners. With it they bring more changes and innovation towards the English language, bringing us more resources for the new days to come.
Saya generasi muda yang peduli literasi! Artikel ini ditulis sebagai bentuk serta EF Literacy Day Competition 2021: https://www.ef.co.id/writing-competition
Anil. (2018, December 5). English language statistics – an exhaustive list. Lemon Grad. https://lemongrad.com/english-language-statistics/
Ethnologue. (2021). How many languages are there in the world? https://www.ethnologue.com/guides/how-many-languages#:~:text=7%2C111%20languages%20are%20spoken%20today.%20That%20number%20is
Johnson, J. (2021, January). Most common languages used on the internet 2020. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/262946/share-of-the-most-common-languages-on-the-internet/
Lyons, D. (2021). How many people speak English, and where is it spoken? Babbel Magazine. https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-many-people-speak-english-and-where-is-it-spoken#:~:text=Out%20of%20the%20world%E2%80%99s%20approximately%207.5%20billion%20inhabitants%2C
Steinmetz, K. (2019, July 18). The internet is changing the English language. Is that a good thing? TIME. https://time.com/5629246/because-internet-book-review/
TechTarget. (2016, January). Wikipedia. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Wikipedia