OMG! Technology Causes Language Change

This week I set out to find examples of the changes in language made possible by new technologies such as social media and blogging. Most of this language shift began in chat rooms and in text messages, where quick words are favored over proper spelling and grammar.

One place I found several instances of language change was the comment stream on this Flickr photo. I noticed a complete lack of “proper” sentence structure: the comments are in sentence fragments, and are missing the correct punctuation. They also, more often than not, are missing the capital letter to start the sentence off. There is an over-usage in the exclamation point, repeated several times as if to show extreme exclamation. Finally, there is the text smiley face, constructed with a colon and a parenthesis. Here are a few of the comments that highlight these observations:

  1. Amazing! Fabulous work.
  2. aw. i agree with eveyone else antolin. there is a story to be told here. beautiful detail.
  3. What an awesome shot !!!
    You did a great work on this shot !!!
  4. beautiful detail and atmosphere antolin 🙂

Another place I noted changes in language was in the blog of a Canadian teenager called Oh Clementine. The tag line of this teen’s blog even lacks proper grammar: “where i make nonsense make sense”. Note the capitalization and punctuation “errors”.

Looking specifically at a post from 2010 about cats, I noted the usage of words in all caps, usually to simulate yelling or to stress a particular point. What is most interesting about this post is that the author has incorporated drawings in a sort of web comic kind of way. In the comic, the author uses numerous examples of language change including:

  1. OMG NOOOO!!! (acronym for Oh My God, all caps, extra exclamation)
  2. O hai! Legs! This looks like a good place to nap!!!! (O instead of Oh, hai instead of hey, and extra exclamation)
  3. *sigh* guess I’ll find a different sweater … (use of asterisks to denote an action, lack of capitalization, use of ellipses “…” to indicate break in thought)

My final example is not necessarily a change in language, but a change in the use of it. The microblogging site Twitter has led to an entirely new literary art form, microfiction. This new literary form consists of an extremely short story, in 140 characters or less. Check out Twitter Fiction for many great micro-stories like these:

  1. When I saw her, I couldn’t find words. That was a first. Eyes met. Words weren’t needed. That was a first too.
  2. Left, Right, Left, Right. My footsteps echo in the prison hall. I’ve had my last meal and now take that infamous walk to my certain death.
  3. “TIMES UP!” was the last thing I read on the L.E.D screen. Gone were the green, blue and red wires. Gone were my stylish pink wire cutters.

About museofdestiny

Mommy. Wife. Writer. Entrepreneur.
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2 Responses to OMG! Technology Causes Language Change

  1. Morgan Harper Nichols says:

    Twitter Fiction! I had never heard of this – now I’m addicted. I’m glad to see someone using 140 quite productively – I usually end up abbreviating words (which I do reluctantly) and I always wish I could think of a slightly more clever way to say something. I’m really interested to see what will happen in the next 10 years or so as all of the abbreviations become more and more frequent in everyday use (the OED just recently added “OMG” and “LOL!”).

  2. Pingback: How Technology Shapes Our World | Muse of Destiny

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