What makes us human, is it our ability to use language? Language is how we understand the world; it enables us to connect.A lingua franca is a common language that makes communication between people not sharing the same native language possible. With telecommunication technologies changing the way in which humans interact, what impact does that have in the way we connect? Whether it is through social media or email we are now connected through the internet and mediums based on machine languages. Technology has revolutionised modern life at a global level, especially the written language where technology has had the biggest impact.

The invention of the internet has created an evolution within the language. It provides an ability to communicate and perhaps has become the most important invention of human communication.It has added new words and alternative forms of language. Crystal suggests that “the internet is an amazing medium for languages.” Internet slang has evolved and it has produced a lingua franca of it is own, it has created an abstract type of linguistics know as Netlingo; “everyday terms such as lol and g2g are part of online literacy” (Danesi, 2016).

This has provided a capability to generate shorthand linguistics that makes communication easier for anyone who is connected to a network. This can be experienced via instant messaging or email, mediums in which contemporary society communicates. Computer languages are artificial languages that enable us to communicate with machines. These languages were invented for machine communication, unlike most human languages which were naturally developed. A computer does not read information in the same way that humans do. There are a multitude of programming languages that exist today: although there are over 2,000 computer languages, few are widely used.

Regardless of what computer language you learn “Hello World” is a familiar phrase to any computer programmer. Landbridge suggests that “Hello World” is often the first universal piece of programming language that anyone learning a computer language will write.So what is the current lingua franca of programming languages? Some would suggest it is HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language).This language is a mix between a computer’s language and our own. “HTML is the lingua francafor publishing hypertext on the World Wide Web” (Murphy and Persson, 2009). Allain states it is the programming language C that has become the lingua franca of programming, due to being a great language for expressing common ideas.

Computer coding was once considered a technical language practiced by computer programmers. But it is now recognised within contemporary society as an important skill, perhaps a new form of digital literacy. Processing was invented in Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed by two artists and technologists Casey Reas and Benjamin Fry. It is a Java-based computer programming language. It was intended to be a learning language for people with an interest in coding but with no coding skills, in particular artists. It is a visual language and creates an immediate visual output. In an interview with inventor Casey Reas, he explains that he developed the language with the intent of enabling people to learn a coding language within the context of the visual arts.

Technology has influenced art and programming languages have made an impact on the creation of contemporary art. The influence has assimilated into the form of generative art. In 2002 the Whitney Museum of Modern Art organised an exhibition called CODeDOC which was an exhibition showcasing artistic code, which aimed to question the way in which artists were creating work and artistic processes that involved code. “Artists coded a specific assignment in a language of their choice and were asked to exchange the code with each other for comments”.

Many artists incorporate code into their practice; if you don’t know a coding language perhaps that would exclude you from digital art themed exhibitions, although new media curator Christiane Paul suggests that you do not need to be a programmer or understand computer languages to establish connections between code and art. In some cases, reading code will enhance the perception of the work; in other cases, the code doesn’t necessarily add to the projects. In our current technologically dominated society, are computer languages the imperial language? The rapid integration of the Internet and World Wide Web into daily life has added new words and alternative forms of language to the human lexicon.

As Kleinman stated, there is no doubt that technology has had a significant impact on language. We may perceive programming languages differently to human languages as they did not develop the same way, natural language evolution occurred before technology existed. In the advent of digital technologies, computational thinking has become a way of understanding. Will it become paramount in the way we communicate in an ever increasingly digital world? Holmquist imagines the entire world switching to a new language, one that runs through everything from your personal life to evolving to create new meanings. She states it has already happened: the language is computer code.

With computer programming languages becoming more relevant to contemporary culture, is coding becoming the new lingua franca? Humans are now communicating with machines more than ever before; they have created languages to transmit information to technology. Computer mediated linguistics are developing, we are connected across the globe and this has enabled us to communicate. We use language to express an idea to in the same way a computer executes an algorithm.

Software has developed to be intertwined in all aspects of contemporary life; Christiane Paul asserts that there is “no digital art that doesn’t have a layer of code and algorithms. Even if the physical and visual manifestations of digital art distract from the layer of data and code, any digital image has ultimately been produced by instructions and the software that was used to create or manipulate.”Although it could be argued that they are fundamentally different, what human languages and programming languages have in common is that they were both created to communicate.




Danesi, M. (2016). Language, society, and new media. Routledge.

Murphy, C. and Persson, N. (2009). HTML and CSS Web standards solutions. Berkeley, CA: Friends of ED.