English pp 224-236 | Cite as

Electronic English

  • Jan Svartvik
  • Geoffrey Leech


It is obvious that new electronic channels such as email and the World Wide Web have brought an enormous quantitative increase in the usage of English around the world. English had a headstart over other languages in this e-revolution, which took place chiefly in the 1980s and early 1990s, mainly because of the way the technology developed in an English-speaking country (the United States), but also because the Internet was tailor-made for a language using the Roman alphabet with no diacritics (such as the accents in French rêvé and the umlaut in German Frühling). English became its default language. However, the electronic revolution has also boosted the use of other languages, and the proportion of English on the Internet has been steadily falling since the 1990s. Since 2004, when Facebook began (quickly followed by YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006), development of social media has also been a major factor in altering the linguistic character of the Internet, as for the first time the majority of users are not just reading content on the Internet but actively adding to it, and most of these additions are expressed in their own languages. Even endangered languages can benefit from the Internet, through dispersed networks of users who can now converse regularly around the world in a lesser-used tongue.


Factual Content Punctuation Mark Write Language Indefinite Number Roman Alphabet 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Svartvik
    • 1
  • Geoffrey Leech
    • 2
  1. 1.Lund UniversitySweden
  2. 2.Lancaster UniversityUK

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