IM represents 'new linguistic renaissance'
Teens flex their chat muscles
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. ®
How about pwnd?
Vocal use of 'owned' in the gaming context in regular conversation is punishable by three options:
1. A Counterstrike match with the Queens English enforced over mic.
2. 100 lines of "Victory and the past possession of an object are not the same thing"
get on a bus
... and you'll hear wonderful conversations like:
"and he was like..."
"yeah, and she was like, what?"
So tha's, like, y'know, how peeps talk like, innit?
Give me LOL any day of the week, it's a word in it's own right now (like w00t); you can even pluralise it, "lolz!".
"show off what they can do with language"
More accurately : how much they can mangle it.
In school, I was taught that a "dead" language was not spoken any more and thus, did not change, whereas a "living" language was used and changed over the course of time.
At that time, I was brought to think that having a living language is quite a good thing, adaptability and all that.
Unfortunately, along the way I learned one crucial fact about how a living language changes : it's because of all the mouth-breathers who can't be arsed to spell their own language correctly, and thus impose their repeated mistakes until said mistake gets its own place in the hallowed pages of a dictionary and becomes "part" of the language.
That irks me to no end.