Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is Texting Killing The English Language?


In this TED talk, linguist John McWhorter analyses the linguistics of texting:




"Texting properly isn’t writing at all — it’s actually more akin to spoken language. And it’s a “spoken” language that is getting richer and more complex by the year . . .

Texting is developing its own kind of grammar. Take LOL. It doesn’t actually mean “laughing out loud” in a literal sense anymore. LOL has evolved into something much subtler and sophisticated and is used even when nothing is remotely amusing. Jocelyn texts “Where have you been?” and Annabelle texts back “LOL at the library studying for two hours.” LOL signals basic empathy between texters, easing tension and creating a sense of equality. Instead of having a literal meaning, it does something — conveying an attitude — just like the -ed ending conveys past tense rather than “meaning” anything. LOL, of all things, is grammar. Of course no one thinks about that consciously. But then most of communication operates below the radar. Over time, the meaning of a word or an expression drifts — meat used to mean any kind of food, silly used to mean, believe it or not, blessed.

Civilization, then, is fine — people banging away on their smartphones are fluently using a code separate from the one they use in actual writing, and there is no evidence that texting is ruining composition skills. Worldwide people speak differently from the way they write, and texting — quick, casual and only intended to be read once — is actually a way of talking with your fingers."

Read the rest of John McWhorter's article, Is Texting Killing the English Language?

1 comment:

Comments with names are more likely to be published.