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Language is one of the major building blocks of society and culture. It develops and grows, along with society itself. There are plenty of examples throughout history of language being shaped by society, as in the dropping of the letter “u” from British English to form American English words.

That is certainly true with the quick ascent of the word Latinx in current linguistics. In the not too distant past, many people of Spanish heritage were referred to as Latino or Latina, but a more gender-neutral pronoun was needed with the rise of gender bias in language. Thus was born the word Latinx. It is a gender-neutral pronoun to describe people from Spanish lineage.

Examine the use of pronouns for the non-binary and transgender individuals. Instead of using “he” or “she” as basic pronouns, the most commonly used pronoun is “they”. It is important to remember that not all individuals fall into the same line and category of “he” or “she” anymore. The binary gender world is a thing of the past and language has to grow to accompany it.

Unfortunately, as with any change, there will always be those vehemently opposed. The older generation sees the gender-neutral term as robbing them of their previously gendered version of speech and language, therefore changing the actual culture itself.

The same is true for the rise of emoji and gifs. With smart devices in every household and the advent of social media and the many texting apps, pictures as language and conversation have soared in popularity. A few linguists believe this rush of popularity will result in language degrading back to the form of pictographs seen in many ancient cultures. Many linguists don’t think that’s a likely outcome, however, it does add yet another complexity to text-speak. It is hard enough to convey actual emotion through shorthand, without layering occasionally hard to decipher pictures on top of it.

As society grows, changes, and learns, so does language. Even with preservation societies in place for current languages, it’s easy to see that change can and will occur. Language is expression, and each generation seeks to express themselves, to stand apart, to be unique. So, languages change and evolve, growing with every progressive generation.