Friday, 14 September 2012

The infiltration of social media language into actual real everyday speech.

pic from
A few years ago, those with a prescriptive view of the English language were lamenting its decline into textspeak, fearing that "u" would replace "you" for evermore. However, as far as I'm concerned, that was just a fad, and everyone knows that when one fad goes out, another must come in. Enter, social media language.

Very few of my friends actually send text messages in traditional textspeak (although perhaps it's not really old enough to be called "traditional" but hey), as the majority of us have smartphones with qwerty keyboards and predictive text. Plus, I hate textspeak. I find it takes longer to both read and write which defeats the point. However, social media language is another craze all together: I am probably one of its keenest users. Yup, in my social circles I hear things like "hashtag first world problems" and "rofl" pretty often. But I have to admit that I'm probably slightly more addicted to social media than the average Josephine strolling down the street.

In everyday life, we are turning initialisms into acronyms. What I mean by this is where we type the letters "L. O. L", we pronounce them as a word: "lol". (Another example of an initialism would be RSPCA, as opposed to the acronym UCAS... ya get me?)

The interesting thing is how seamlessly social media language, or Twitspeak, shall we say, has infiltrated into our day-to-day speech. It's now pretty acceptable in informal situations. Flick through any women's magazine and if you actually look out for it, you'll notice that Twitspeak occurs in most sentences. I can't help but wonder how far it will go though... Language purists pondered this back when textspeak emerged, voicing their fears that graduates would be writing their dissertations in extreme shorthand, littered with "l8r" and the like. I, however, do not share these fears. It's only natural for technology to result in new words being coined and then filtering into spoken language. I do not think we need to worry about people sitting in job interviews proclaiming that their last project was a bit of a "hashtag epic fail".

It's fun to play with language, and I love jazzing mine up, be that by shortening words a la Twitter ("totes adorbs"), spreading new creations ("amazeballs") or by simply mixing things up ("exactamente"). Everyone knows what I mean by saying these things, and I think social media has done a great job in encouraging people to play around with language and make things more interesting. They're only words, after all.

Do you think Twitspeak should remain just that, on Twitter? Or is it acceptable in everyday language? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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