Language Change


Language is changing all the time, and newspapers reflect this too. The language of 100 years ago is very different from today's.

Here are some articles from the Cambridge Chronicle of 1887.

What differences can you see when these are compared with local papers of the present day? You could look at the modern Cambridge Evening News online if you wish, though your own local paper would be just as useful. Try to find stories on a similar topic to the stories below. Concentrate on language differences as well as the content of the stories.


Henry Martin, a cab-driver, was summoned for furious driving in Station-road on the 10th instant.Witnesses were called who showed that the defendant was travelling at the rate of twelve miles per hour. The MAYOR said the complaints against the cabmen of the town were so numerous that the Magistrates felt bound to protect the public as far as possible. The defendant was fined 40s and costs. The bench allowed him fourteen days in which to pay the money.


John William Jones, a boy about ten years of age, living in Broad-street, was charged with the theft of a knife and a cake, the property of Mr T. A. Saville, from his shop in the arcade on Wednesday evening. The prosecution desired to withdraw the prosecution, on account of the illness of the boy's mother, and the court discharged the lad, on his father's promising to thrash him for the offence.


A boy named Robert Perry Stopford, aged 14, who lived with his parents at Girton, committed suicide on Saturday night. He had been discharged from his employment in a Manchester warehouse, and on Saturday night, he told a companion "that he would be in Heaven or Hell that night". Soon afterwards he was found in the road dead, with a pistol by his side, having shot himself in the stomach. Upon him was found the following note in pencil:

"Dear Mater, - I've gone to meet the Great Mystery face to face. Sorry for what I've done, of course. Good bye. Tell my brother I curse him with all my heart.

R. Stopford."


George Tarrant, described as a billiard marker, was charged, on remand, with attempting to commit suicide, at the Globe Inn, Hill's-road, on the 3rd inst. The bench discharged the defendant with a caution.

Now write

a) a modern version of one of the stories above

b) an 1887 version of a story you find in your local paper.

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