Feeds

IM represents 'new linguistic renaissance'

Teens flex their chat muscles

High performance access to file storage

Those among you who believe the use of instant messaging slang and shorthand among teens has doomed the English language to inevitable destruction should take heart from this report in New Scientist, which claims that au contraire, IM represents an "an expansive new linguistic renaissance".

That's according to Derek Denis and Sali Tagliamonte of the University of Toronto, who say the medium of IM allows yoof to roll out a "robust mix" of colloquial and formal lingo and, significantly, that "far from ruining teenagers' ability to communicate, IM lets teenagers show off what they can do with language".

Denis explained: "IM is interactive discourse among friends that is conducive to informal language, but at the same time, it is a written interface which tends to be more formal than speech."

Denis and Tagliamonte came to this conclusion after trawling over a million words of IM chat and 250,000 spoken words used by 72 people aged between 15 and 20. They discovered that "although IM shared some of the patterns used in speech, its vocabulary and grammar tended to be relatively conservative".

While linguistically-slack young 'uns are, for example, more likely to say "He was like, 'What's up?'" than "He said, 'What's up?'" when speaking, the opposite is true when they're IMing their mates. This, say the researchers, "supports the idea that IM represents a hybrid form of communication".

Regarding acronyms, readers will be relieved to learn that their use is not as ubiquitous as might appear. Outrages such as LOL, OMG and TTYL actually comprised a mere 2.4 per cent of IM vocab, a figure described by Denis and Tagliamonte as "infinitesimally small".

The dreaded "u", meanwhile, was shunned in favour of a full-fat "you" in 90 per cent of cases, and the researchers reckon use of such abbreviations is "confined mostly to the youngest users of IM".

Denis and Tagliamonte's findings are published in the spring 2008 issue of American Speech. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Forget the beach 'n' boardwalk, check out the Santa Cruz STEVE JOBS FOUNTAIN
Reg reader snaps shot of touching tribute to Apple icon
Happy 40th Playmobil: Reg looks back at small, rude world of our favourite tiny toys
Little men straddle LOHAN, attend tiny G20 Summit... ah, sweet memories...
Oz bank in comedy Heartbleed blog FAIL
Bank: 'We are now safely patched.' Customers: 'You were using OpenSSL?'
Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest
New minifigs like Monster Fighters are turning kids to the dark side
Dark SITH LORD 'Darth Vader' joins battle to rule, er, Ukraine
Only I can 'make an empire out of a republic' intones presidential candidate
Chinese company counters pollution by importing fresh air
Citizens line up for bags of that sweet, sweet mountain air
Google asks April Fools: Want a job? Be our 'Pokemon Master'
Mountain View is prankin' like it's 1999...
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.