All languages show a continuous flow of transformation; so much so that the Latin of 2000 years ago morphed into a myriad of new languages, among them Portuguese, Spanish, French, the Italian dialects etc. That the outcome had not been one single language is a sign that the forces acting on language are region dependent. Slang words are continuously being invented and, despite the resistance of the literates, some new words find their way into the accepted dictionaries. But there are other forces as well.
An example: one of the forces is the casting of spoken language into writing. Considering the Latin alphabet of 23 letters, if the presumably much larger number of original phonemes was to be represented by a small number of signs a streamlining of words was then required which tended to change word forms for good and even eliminate some. In speech there is the ancient hiatus word “ahhhn”, which means more will come. It occurs in conversations, being what one can call a sonorous pause in which the speaker instantly ponders what to say next. Pressure exists not to represent it in writing and treat it as an affectation, or to represent it by a hyphen which is not pronounced. This might be so because the western alphabets are, in some aspects, inadequate and almost force the elimination of this word. Not so in Japanese script which has a widely used sign for more will come.
The ongoing globalization of economy is bringing with it new forces on language. Newly introduced commercial products tend to bring with them to other languages the name they have in the country of origin. The words “computer” and “software” are good examples. Many languages accepted these words with only minor modifications. It is true that some resisted, like the French, who created for them their own words “ordinateur” and “logiciel”.
Linked to globalization, another forcing of languages is also springing up, coming from the need to translate. In the act of translating a text from one language into another, correspondences of words need to be established. With most words the correspondence is straightforward, but in many instances there is a cultural dependence, so that for a good translation the translator should be well versed in the cultures of the countries where the languages are spoken. Otherwise, when he faces a multiple choice for the translation of some word, he might pick the wrong correspondence making the resulting translation strange-sounding or unintelligible. Take the word “assume” in its meaning of “suppose”. At present an acceptable choice, for a translation into Portuguese, is “assumir”. Not so 50 years ago. In the meantime this new word was forced into the Portuguese language due to pressure coming from translation. As automatic translation is becoming important, it is expected that the words in our dictionaries will be streamlined so as to facilitate them.