Friday, November 22, 2013


 Hey, when I write, I don't use smileys,  emotions, text words or symbols, or [emotions]
like :-(.
I say YOU, not U, and "thank you," not TY. If something is funny I say "that's funny," not LOL.

I like words and enjoy creating sentences. I don't think in 140 character sentences -- mine have rhythm -- the rhythm conveys feeling. Shakespeare does it with iambic pentameter -- (sample). But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? ("Romeo and Juliet," or this, which suits my mood today, from "Richard III," -- Now is the winter of our discontent.

Hey, I avoid four letter words even if I'm angry. I don't think they help to emphasize passion, conviction, or anguish, and I seriously dislike abbreviations. When I read the latest news, I need to retain the title -- like will the NRA do something about guns? The National Rifle Association is killing us, according to what I learn on C|NET (while I'm wondering what does the "C:" stands for?)

I recently read an article by Katy Steinmetz in my Time Magazine. It's about tweet talk messing up language today. Since I get tons of email with emoticons, smileys, and net lingo, I Googled the subject and read opinions from accredited guys -- John Whorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, author of "What Language Is (and What It Isn't and What It Could Be," -- Carnegie Mellon Professor of Language Technologies, Noah Smith, who designs algorithms for automated analysis of human language, -- also, Jacob Epstein, computation linguist at George tech.

These educated chaps say text language is affecting, changing language today.

I think it's a viral infection. Text lingo like LOL -- I see laughing out loud every day, like IMA that serves as a subject, verb, and preposition to convey I am going to, like IKR means I really know. It bugs me, that my way of communicating is getting obsolescent.

And OMG, I read about a fascinating new language, N'KO -- it's a language app that is already helping various languages to use texting language. N'KO is gathering the terms, translating them for non English countries, so they can utilize and understand tweet/text language.

It reminds me of the days when I spoke Pig Latin. I figure kids nowadays, like me back then, want a special way of talking that befuddles the older folks and keeps the kids from being understood by adults. 

Anyhow, Googling, I learned there are 500 million messages and  more than 200 million daily twitter-users using hashtags, emoticons, links, even geotags that reveal their location.

I learned that older tweeters tend to use emoticons with noses -- :-) instead of :) -- youthful "no nose" tweeters (the nose is the dash before the parenthesis), tend to use more swear words -- young tweeters are more apt to type everything in capitals, and use expressive lengthening, like writing niiiiiiice instead of "nice."

"Language is really a window into people's sense of personal identity," Jacob Eisenstein, the Georgia Tech guy said.
       "I see that things you think you understand, you don't really understand, like LOL. It doesn’t actually mean laughing out loud in a literal sense. It's subtler-sophisticated -- it's used even when nothing is remotely amusing -- a friend texts 'Where have you been?' and her pal texts back 'LOL at the library studying for two hours.' LOL implies empathy between the texters, sort of creating a sense of equality -- Instead of having a literal meaning, it's conveying an attitude." .

OMG, IRK -- YOU probably want to know all the latest, newest text terms! Okay, okay, here's the link to a guide to tweet language.

I am not L o L-ing--this stuff really irks me.


Carola said...

This whole texting and tweeting era has passed me by, although I can see the virtues of texting (if your cell phone has a keyboard), because you don't interrupt people. But I read a hilarious book "When Parents Text" by two sisters quoting their baby boomer parents' first texts. All the confusion with abbreviations. The parents learn emoticons and go crazy with wonderful emoticon art. and the funny texting relationship between parents and daughters is heart-warming. If you need to laugh out loud, read a few pages of this book!

Dustspeck said...

Shorthand writing/longhand writing/New Dutch/Old Dutch/Old English/American English/Acronyms for every Science and Bureaucratic Institution; plus, don't forget the military's addiction for them: I guess it is all part of the evolution of language. In Cultural Anthropology, Linguistics is a special field of study that has helped people try to trace themselves into the past. What lies forward may only be a cuneiform like acronym from this time carved into a smooth stone and may be all that remains for the curious and might be completely misinterpreted. Dustspeck

Ameer S. Washington said...

Hahahahaha! Of course it irks you. You're even older than I am, but I was lucky enough to be caught in the middle of the internet phenomenon. We had the internet, but we didn't use it extensively. I had to do research using the Dewey Decimal System. I had phonics in school. But I also grew up with the internet was new and fresh. When people still used Netscape.

So LOL, and BRB, and BBIAB, and BBL, and ROTFLMAO don't really bother me, because for me the development of it's usage was organic. It hasn't hindered my ability to write coherent sentences with a subject, verb, and a predicate. Those following behind us, though not all, are having a great deal of trouble.

That's the advantage and disadvantage of technology. The world moves at an alarming pace and often many don't take the time for a moment of pause and quiet reflection. The flip side to it, is that if you're not the top dog already, you have to be able to move that fast to navigate in this world of internet lingo and pixel. I'm lucky enough to have the advantage of working with children. So I think of LOL and all that as slang. Slang changes daily. There's a new word every other day. But if you're immersed in the change of the language, it becomes second nature. If you have to adapt, then it can cause a stir.

So yeah, twitter and their limiting 140 characters forces folks to try to squeeze as much into their box as possible. So you becomes U and to becomes 2, and I know right becomes IKR, because you don't want to have to use 6 tweets to be proper. Then you get the whole issue of "subtweeting," which is an entirely different animal in and of itself.

Later Em. Great post. It's a struggle. Hopefully the world doesn't flush itself down the toilet sooner than it already will.

Anonymous said...

HI Em. I don't mind abbreviations. When I'm posting on twitter, the 140 character limit often forces me to use them if I want to convey my meaning in one tweet. So I type out what I want to say, and then I eliminate, shorten and abbreviate. I believe it's helped my writing a lot, by showing me what I really believe is important in a sentence. Tweeting helps one be succinct.
Many times I've had to google an abbreviation. Often there are multiple possibilities..
My feeling is that language is always evolving.
As to the nose in smiley faces, often times it depends on the device being used. Some devices have smiley face icons, These give a different result than the smiley face you type out. ie On my tablet, the icon gives me :-) whereas I never type that out... I just go : ) and if it's a really funny joke : ))) or big smile : D
I wonder if 500 years from now people will be looking back at the beginnings of the new universal language of icons. It's not a new idea. The Egyptians used hieroglyphs 5000 years ago.
What goes around... : )))
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter

Unknown said...

First off, I LOVE John Whorter's book!!! Have you read it, Em? It's a must for someone who loves words and language. My degree is in English, but I learned a lot from this book.

Secondly, GREAT comments from everyone! Language is a changing and growing entity, so all this "technology age" speak is expected and appropriate--although I don't really like it either! My daughters continue to try to get me to text, but so far, I'm having none of it! If I want to write to someone, I'll write; if I want to call someone, I'll call. Why do we need something which is both and neither?

And a 140 character limit??? PLEASE, NO!!! I have a Twitter account, but only rarely use it, probably for this reason.

I do use emoticons frequently though, which I got into the habit of back when instant messaging was new on PCs. I'm probably what's considered "older," but I've never used a nose for my smileys. Hmmm...

Wonderful post, as always, Em! <3

Kevin Daly said...

I was once complimented on using proper capitalization, punctuation and grammar in text messages. It's bad enough we don't actually write by hand, which I think takes more care and consideration on the part of both the writer and reader. To further minimize the English language because of texting and tweeting is just unthinkable to me.

Linda Phillips said...

As a long time "chatter" since 1995, I am used to the BRB's and WB's etc. It is just faster and for a bad typist who types now with only one finger,it makes life a lot easier online.

In real life or in an email, I am quite well spoken and verbose.

I totally understand your frustration as a writer and a lover of words. So am I.