Thursday, October 22, 2009

OMG..... Has Twitter shortened our words?

With the addition of texting to our life, are we changing our English language? If you believe a research done by college psychology students at the University of Alberta, we're in the process of changing our language.
With only 140 characters available on Twitter and almost the same amount on your cell phone, shortening words to "BTW" for by the way or "OMG" for oh my gosh is almost essential.
According to an article in the Washington Post, the Canadian students surveyed the text messages of 40 students for their research. The group was working on the premise that parents were concerned that students who use what they termed "chatspeak" would become bad spellers or never learn how to write well are unfounded.
According to Connie Varnhagen, the lead psychologist on the study: "Young people can compartmentalize their language. They have language that they use on the playground and then school language. They know how to speak in classrooms without sounding like goofballs."
I agree with Varnhagen that our young people are probably coming up with a dialect of their own. It's still English but it reminds me of a time I ran into two British soldiers in northern Germany in 1985. In their Welsch-Cockney accent, they spoke to me rather rudely while I was in one of their British "tea" rooms in at their military exchange in Minden.
I looked at them, noted the lack of stripes on their sleeves and pointed to the four I had on my shoulder board and told them I was an American sergeant and I didn't believe they would spoke to their noncoms like they just did with me.
They immediately reverted into a more formal form of English and apologized by offering to buy my tea.
Most of our teens can speak in several dialects of their language, especially if their educators re-enforce the use of formal grammar in school. My wife, the high school science teacher, is the type that will rip a student for using "prolly" instead of probably in a paper. Yet, she admits a lot of language teachers are allowing their students to use the new dialect in their writing efforts.
Still, in time, I believe we will see a shift in language. More and more, as we speak in the 140 characters allowed on Twitter or our cell phones, we'll embrace the use of chatspeak.

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