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There are so many myths about language and the negative effects it has our society in general. Given that social media and technology now plays a relevant role in our everyday life, one such group that has become the subject of such myths are our young people. Very often, you will hear adults say that technology is destroying our kids. An adult might argue that this is evident in their attention span, their social skills, work ethics etc. From such a perspective it is believed that Media and texting are ruining language”; However, such opinion is not relevant if this idea is not observed through a different ideological lens, one that would argue that changes in our language i.e. texting, in particular, has introduced and allowed language diversity.
Throughout history, language has evolved from the period of ancient Mayan hieroglyphic to our times which include the use of laptop, cellphones, and tablets. The way in which a young person writes and speak has always been very important to our elders. The way that young people speak today, from the outside looking in one might assert he is not taught properly particularly judging how he commands the use of his language. Growing up it was always said that the way we speak is the way we write – language is spoken. With that in mind, parents always correct their child/children to ‘speak properly,’ so that they would not be perceived as unintelligent to the public eye whenever they speak.
According to John McWhorter in one of his YouTube videos “Texting is killing language” he says; “texting is fingered speech” (how we talk). In other words, with fingered speech, all the rules of language go out the window. There is no need to capitalize, punctuate, or check for spelling given that it is an informal way of communicating – texting is not writing. This is the way that young people along see texting as a way to not stick to the formal way of writing, especially after being in school for the whole day. This is their way of letting their way of relaxing. In todays society nobody really looks for proper English. (John McWhorter), (2013, April 22). Txtng is killing language, JK!!!. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmvOgW6iV2s
McWhorter in his video said that texting is an emergent complexity, new language, and new structure. He explored the use of the abbreviation LOL that everyone translates as (laughing out loud). Today LOL is over so used as a sign of empathy, which is true. LOL is being used outside of its original usage McWhorter described it as a marker of empathy, and as a marker of accommodation (McWhorter, 2013). Linguist calls this pragmatic particle, a word or phrase that to fill in gaps in discourse.
Are media and texting ruining language? McWhorter in his video showed were English professors and superintendents dated from 1956 to as far 63 A.D. Language is always developing, every day some new language is developed and once it becomes a norm, it becomes a part of our vocabulary whether it be in texting or writing. When it comes to language, there will always be a change in how we spell or even how a word.
David Crystal investigates how texting began and who uses it, why and what for. He shows how to interpret its mix of pictograms, logograms, abbreviations, symbols, and wordplay, and how it works in different languages. Texting is a learned behavior just as how you can teach kids the proper way to speak and write in a formal, what texting does is bring the informal twist to it, at the end of the day the person on the receiving end is able to understand what is sent to them.
“The popular belief is that texting has evolved as a twenty-first-century phenomenon – as a highly-distinctive graphic style, full of abbreviations and deviant uses of language, used by a young generation that doesn’t care about standards. There is a widely voiced concern that the practice is fostering a decline in literacy. And some even think it is harming language as a whole” (Crystal, D) Txtng the GR8 DB8. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brooklyn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=829458# . It is not that the younger generation does not care about the standards. It is what they feel most comfortable within a particular moment. Despite what many people think, texting is not bad for literacy. As a matter of fact, the idea of combining graphics within the text is not a new concept or exclusive to younger generations. There is evidence to show that it actually helps literacy.
Crystal speaks about the six distinctive features of texting; genuine novelties, shortenings, non-standard spelling, omitted letters, initialisms, pictograms, and logograms. These have caught the eye of media commenters giving them an impression of novelty – the quality of being new, original, or unusual. The media has also helped in the developing/development of language over the years. Commentators and even talk show hosts using them on the set. For example, one of the most important contact people as for is your email address on a day-to-day basis. When you ask someone to write their email address they do not put (johnbrownatgmail.com) instead he will put ([email protected]), this is catchier, more captivating to the eye, more trendsetting.
“Many of these symbols were being used in computer interactions that preceded the arrival of mobile devices. Remember those infamous chatrooms of the 1990s? Some can even be found in pre-computer informal writing, dating back a hundred years or more.” (Crystal 2008) Txtng the GR8 DB8 https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brooklyn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=829458#
Media gives the impression that the written language encountered on mobile phone screens is weird. The distinctive spellings and symbols draw lots of attention and concern. Some may even say that people who rely on texting or digital communication are somewhat illiterate or lazy. It has been labeled ‘textese’, ‘language’, a ‘new hi-tech lingo’, a ‘hybrid shorthand’, a ‘digital virus’. It has been described as ‘foreign’, ‘alien’, and ‘outlandish’. It is so much viewed as a new language that texters have been called ‘bilingual.’
So what is the problem? Society believes and Crystal states in his book that, “they[students] will inevitable transfer these new habits into their school work and eventually the language on a whole will eventually decline. There was never any clear evidence supporting these claims, but that did not stop them from being made. Parents, in particular, are more so the ones to make these claims, because they are concerned, and often times teachers are the ones being blamed. This is not fair to teachers, because teachers, teach students the right way to write (the formal way). At the same time society has a lot of influence on certain habits, especially language that children and teenagers gravitate towards. The idea of giving a child a cellphone at an early age is another reason why they will be quicker to learn these different types of language via media or texting.
Crystal speaks about teachers and examines the use of abbreviations in students’ writing. These few instances stem from carelessness, tiredness or lack of thought, rather than the inability to spell or punctuate. Another group of children was said to be poor writers for different reasons; such as too much television, too many video games, too much internet, not enough reading, these reasons have pre-dated texting.
“Crystal believes that if you already have difficulty with reading and writing, you are not likely not to use sophisticated technology that challenges your understanding of the English language. If you do choose to do so, any formal experiences with reading and writing would be a help, rather than a hindrance.” (Crystal 2008) Txtng the GR8 DB8 https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brooklyn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=829458#
Technology is getting more advanced each day. Ways to text, media communications, and graphics will continue to evolve. Language will be affected by this change because we are speaking about a new generation of young people. John McWhorter and David Crystal made some very interesting points. We are born we are being taught the language of where we are from, and what language that country speaks. The continuing development of language is not only happening in America. Language inbound to change it is inevitable, and it is very evident today, especially amongst different cultural backgrounds. Media and texting are not ruining language, instead, it is making it more diverse. Language is defined as the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use if a word in a structured and conventional way. With that in mind, we should not look at the evolution of language as a bad thing.
The use of emoji is another way that people communicate today. When texting with your partner, friends, or family members. Often times when asked a question, we answer with an emoji. The old school generation would prefer a full sentence, but it goes back to the fact that language is changing. “The highly distinctive text messages which attract media publicity are not typical of the genre as a whole. The issue was the way in which internet enthusiasts, impressed by the way abbreviated forms and emoticons were being used in early email and chatroom interactions, compiled dictionaries and brochures to introduce people to what was being presented as a new language.
“As older and more conservative language users begin to text, an even more standardized style appears. Some people refuse to depart from traditional orthography – but they still text. Their texts may use quite an informal language, but they are nonetheless spelled, capitalized, and punctuated conventionally.” (Crystal 2008) The GR8 DB8 https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/brooklyn-ebooks/detail.action?docID=829458#
Despite these myths about language, and how people believe negative impact texting and media has had on language. The research studies have made it clear that the early media panic and thus the dangers of text messaging was misplaced. Language, media, and texting are like “code switching” you speak one way with your friends, and more formal within the workplace, and even that itself is a topic that could be debatable; proper communication within the workplace.
It is too early to say just how much impact texting will have on speech – the question posed by my correspondent in my Preface. I have heard teenagers say lol ‘laughing out loud’ (pronounced both as ‘lol’ and ‘ell oh ell’), omg ‘oh my God’, and jk ‘just kidding’, and evidently some young texting champions routinely talk that way.
In closing, I would like to just say that language is seen as an art in my eyes. Being able to switch it up whether it be, in the text, or in a formal essay is a plus. Many of us have grown accustomed to the shorter way of texting through abbreviations such as; you are welcome to have now become “welcs”, thnx (thanks) and so many different changes that are being made. I am a firm believer that you have to be updated with what is going on in the world around us. Yes, we were raised one way, and what we were taught growing up has changed tremendously.
- Crystal, D. (2008). Txtng : the gr8 db8. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com
- McWhorter, J (2013, April 22) Txtng is killing language,JK!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmvOgW6iV2s
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