Computer-mediated Discourse and the Process of Lexical Meaning Transformation in Modern English
Having become a Lingua Franca, English is undergoing constant changes in its phonetic, lexical and grammatical systems. Nowadays, rapid technological development, a growing number of information sources, and many other substantial transformations contribute to the language evolution. In addition, complex interaction between different social and cultural groups has a significant impact on the language as well. These changes may affect phonetic, lexical, semantic and syntactic aspects of the language. The purpose of this paper is to reveal and analyze the semantic changes that have taken place in the English language due to the development of “net-English”. Several lexical units, ‘twit’ (or ‘tweet’), ‘surf’, ‘google’, ‘share’, ‘like’ among them, were taken as examples. Generally, this type of language change can be explained by the emergence of new concepts in different spheres. But it is connected not only with physical changes such as new technological achievements or development of new products and tools. There also exist more subjective reasons, such as human perception, which is constantly changing as well. Semantic change can be classified into different types including metonymic transfer, generalization, metaphorization, etc., all which are traced in the Internet discourse. The research employs the traditional research methodology of definitional and contextual analysis and involves the comparative study of vocabulary definitions and the contextual meaning of the lexical units under analysis; excerpts from the National Corpora (British National Corpora and Corpus of Contemporary American English), online forums and the Internet articles (blogs, twits) serve as the empirical basis for the research. The study concludes the existence of the global “semantic shift” in modern English, the assessment of which and its influence on the English and global culture requires further thorough research and detailed linguistic description.
Keywords: computer-mediated discourse, the Internet discourse, lexical meaning, transformation, “semantic shift”
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