Corruption (linguistics)

Corruption (linguistics)

Corruption or bastardisation is a way of referring to certain changes in a language and their prescriptive evaluation. The most common way that a word can be said to be corrupted is the change of its spelling through errors and gradual changes in comprehension, transcription, and hearing. This is especially common with words borrowed from another language. For example Guangzhou was formerly known as "Canton" in English, which is a transliteration of Guangdong following the rules of French sound structures. The terms "corruption" and "bastardisation" are rooted in prescriptivist theories of language.

Language corruption may refer to a change of words, as described above, or to a deviation from the so-called "purity" of standard language. For example, the split infinitive has long been disputed as either a corruption or norm of the English language.

A language (or a certain variety of it) can also come to be regarded as having become "corrupted" when it had acquired a large vocabulary from other languages. Such perception of a language as "corrupt" might lead to efforts to "purify" it by getting rid of the "foreign" loan words.

Text bastardisation is the unauthorized alteration and publication of a text inconsistent with the original purpose or the author's intention, such as removing sexually explicit content from a manuscript.



In the past, with unstandardized spelling for English and other languages, a word would be pronounced differently by people who encountered the word in text and not speech. Eventually, such changes could become standardized. A large number of these changes occurred during the 19th century. English is now highly standardized with some dialectal variation.

The mass written communication of the Internet promotes even greater standardization; however, its informal nature often encourages intentional language changes. In online interactive games, chat rooms and other situations, common typographical errors and attempts at humor have created a number of new alternate spellings (see leet).


Some commonly known words and phrases which are the result of linguistic corruption include:

See also


  1. ^ Gonzaléz, Félix Rodriguez (1996). Spanish Loanwords in the English Language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 39. ISBN 3110148455. 
  2. ^ Webre, Steven (Autumn, 1998). "Among the Cybercajuns: Constructing Identity in the Virtual Diaspora". Louisiana History: the Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association (Louisiana Historical Association) 39 (4): 443–456. JSTOR 4233537. 
  3. ^ Horn, Laurence R. (Spring 2004). "Spitten image : Etymythology and Fluid Dynamics". American Speech 79 (1): 33–58. doi:10.1215/00031283-79-1-33. 
  4. ^ Findley, Carter V (2005). The Turks in World History. Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 0195177266. 
  5. ^ "The Mavens' Word of the Day (for July 11, 2000)". Random House. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  6. ^ Hodgson, Charles (2007). Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer's Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology, and Trivia. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 208–209. ISBN 0312371217.,M1. 

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