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Reading Between The Text Message Lines: How A Culture Becomes Dependent On Electronic Communication And Changes Language Skills Forever

1915 words - 8 pages

David G. Fisher
Professor Hallawell
English 249 (Linguistics)
25 October 2011

Reading between the text message lines:
How a culture becomes dependent on electronic communication and changes language skills forever.

They are everywhere, in schoolyards, high school halls, businesses and even our own homes and they are having an effect on our culture at this very minute. You may even be reading this on one right now. They are cell phones and more and more they are being used for more than just talking; they are being used to send e-mail, text, and instant messages. What originally started out as a way to have more communication in case of emergencies and to have a way for ...view middle of the document...

(Baron) This new phenomenon was easily adopted by a nation who types almost everything anyway. Any new way of communicating, as can be seen throughout history, will bring about change in the way we communicate. When coupled with the innovation, of youth and human beings in general, the new form will bring about a play and change any language. This happened with e-mails, texts, and instant messages.
E-mails, texts and instant messages (IM) were embraced by a sect of the population who tend to be going through nature’s awkward phase, adolescents. To be able to express what you think in the comfort of relative anonymity is a lot easier than the days of face to face. This eventually led to it being seen in adults as well. We get a whole new group of people who are starting and building relationships without every physically being present. This changes how we communicate for we are more likely to type things behind the “veil” of our screens that we may find hard to say in person. Getting to know someone starts by reading their profile and then engaging in online chat. (Melton, Shankle). As stated by journalist Michael Kinsley:
There is something about the Web that brings out the ego monster in everybody…On the internet, not only does everybody know that you’re a dog, everybody knows what kind of dog, how old, your taste in collars, your favorite dog food recipe. (Baron)
Without the ability to see the person (though some have cameras) people start to read emotions in e-mails, texts and IM’s. It can be heard frequently in halls, cubicles and around dinner tables, “his/her text sounded weird.” What this means is that what is written is extremely important and how it is written is more important.
Transformation in language and the way we use it is not in itself deterioration. Very few of us write essays or assignments on actual paper anymore. That is a handiness that is offered by computers and technology. We can get our ideas out of our heads and on the screen as fast as we can type and this is a definitely positive thing. Knowledge of what to do and how to edit those thoughts still needs to come from our understanding and not dependence on technology. In her book, Always On, Naomi S. Baron coined a phrase “linguistic whateverism” to explain how a new generation and group of people are rebelliously ignoring established rules for language.
There are unique features contained in e-mails, texts and IM’s that give ease to conveying what one wants to express. The first obvious aspect of texting is the use of abbreviations and contractions. The English language uses contractions a lot of the time anyway in speech and writing. Don’t, didn’t, isn’t and can’t are all part of everyone’s vocabulary. What becomes obvious when text messages are studied closer is that apostrophes nearly stop being used; only showing up around 30 percent of the time. (Baron)
There is also another part of messaging that is used repeatedly. It is the...

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