Jacobs Poll Results.

Remember the Rose Jacobs poll about the impact of language change that I posted about three months ago? (Good lord, 435 comments — how did that happen?) Well, she’s produced the results, such as they are: “Looking at the data, evidence supporting my hypothesis — that with age we become less tolerant of novel language — is weak: Only in the case of our 2010s phrase, lowkey as an adverb, was there a direct relationship between a person’s age at the time the usage became relatively widespread and intolerance for the phrase.” But she has pretty graphs, and interesting quotes from some of the respondents; check it out.


  1. David Eddyshaw says

    I strongly suspect that the sort of people who read Lingua Franca (and this blog too, for that matter) are highly unrepresentative of their age cohorts, and skew greatly in the direction of neologophilia (or at least higher than usual tolerance for new usages,)

  2. > evidence supporting my hypothesis — that with age we become less tolerant of novel language — is weak

    Because of the way the experiment is designed, there’s not much evidence that we don’t become less tolerant either. Except for the 2010s phrase, we don’t have any information about how people felt about the phrases when they were novel. How people feel about phrases decades after they were novel doesn’t really say much. People initially intolerant with the phrases might have gotten used to them. Phases (e.g. xerox as a verb) might have fallen out of use.

    In fact the only data point which is relevant for the hypothesis (at least as I read it) is the 2010s phrase. That data point in fact supports the hypothesis.

  3. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    Unfortunately the site refused to connect. I thought that might be because the Lingua Franca blog is being discontinued. But that still connects, at least until today. How on earth will we survive without Lingua Franca?

    After writing the above I found I could get to Rose Jacobs’s results by searching her posts at Lingua Franca (9th November).

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