How is technology changing the way we use language? Technology is about improving upon old or existing things. Technology is the application of knowledge to solve problems or invent useful tools in life. British English, Canadian English, Australian English, American English and other English speaking countries have different rules of grammar and spelling. For example, the word colour is spelt with a ‘u’ in the middle but the American way of spelling it does not have the ‘u’. Because people who use the internet regularly from all around the world are exposed to different ways of how other countries use their spelling and grammar so this is another example of how the internet can change language caused by globalisation because some people would get the spelling of words mixed up with other types of English grammar although on some occasion ‘Microsoft Word’ will know which region that you are in and change the language grammar for the writer. Abbreviated words have become a part of us and are something we have naturally accustomed through everyday life.
The first ever SMS was sent from a personal computer to a mobile phone on the Vodafone Network back in 1992. Within less than a decade the amount of people using SMS in the GMS (Global System for Mobile Communications) to communicate to one another reached one billion per month. I find it shocking to believe that we as a society text this much, it becomes easier to understand why technology is being blamed for changing our day-to-day language. Professor of linguistics David Crystal says “English becomes increasingly global; we must expect the centre of gravity to move away from writing in the direction of speech. Although there is no suggestion anywhere that standard written English will diminish.” In this quote I think he means that the way of writing Standard English will not totally disappear but technology is slowly moving us away from the norm. Culture convergence is a phrase used to describe the interaction of one country to another. This can mean adding words from another country to your own vocabulary which could be transferred through technology like TV. This relates with what David Crystal said about how Standard English will diminish since the English language is becoming global. According to Henry Jenkins, Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes, depending on who's speaking and what they think they are talking about. In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms
Henry Jenkins says “Convergence does not occur through media appliances - however sophisticated they may become. Convergence occurs within the brains of individual consumers.” However, Jacqueline Maley says that “Linguists and lexicographers agree that technology, along with American English, is by far the biggest force for change in the English language today”. I think Henry Jenkins is explaining how we as the consumers of the media are allowing language to change. And that it is not the fault of technology, only the fault of us. But Jacqueline Maley believes the reason why American slang is becoming increasingly popular with the English language in the UK is due to celebrities that we see on TV. So she believes technology is to blame, not the consumers.
So television tied in with the popularity of American shows and the slang that is being used is strong enough to change language. For example, through the radio and other forms of broadcasting we learnt through the singer Beyoncé Knowles a new word that she invented as the title of one of her songs back in the year 2001. When this song became increasingly popular with the younger culture to the point where the word ‘Bootylicious’ was actually added into the English Dictionary. This ties in with what David Crystal said in the article ‘Reflecting Linguistic Change’ where he states that “individuals are deliberately inventing a new word, and trying to get established in the new language” which I think is true to not just household names but is also what average everyday people are doing just by communicating through their computer and unknowingly have the power to change the English language. For example, In the 60s and 70s, people used to say ‘groovy’ or ‘funky’ and that was probably seen as unacceptable to the English language and I’m sure technology like TV or the Radio was being blamed for that even back then but I think it was just a way of young people expressing themselves just as we do now. Only now it is more obvious because it isn’t just a few phrases that have changed, it is the whole language.
Humans oppose to writing in full spelling or through a letter or phone call they choose to communicate through technology. Especially with new methods of communication such as Facebook, Twitter and Google News we find that younger people do not read the newspaper anymore because it is right at their fingertips, they can just get it sent straight to their phone. Although it is convenient to have the news sent to you like this, there is an element that is missing because the language style of reading from a newspaper is more formal and explains things specifically and directly to the person. So with the new generation being used to getting news the virtual way, they will only read bullet points about the news and the language used will be shorter and quicker to the point so it is limiting their literacy levels. That is another reason how technology is changing language. Professor of linguistics David Crystal says "The internet is an amazing medium for languages," he told BBC News. "Language itself changes slowly but the internet has speeded up the process of those changes so you notice them more quickly." I think that what he is trying to say is that language has never been something steady because as new things develop for every generation it brings along something new with it. Nowadays nobody or even in the past 50 years do people talk the way the Shakespeare did and that’s because language is never something to stay the same.
The disadvantages that occur because the next generation are shortening words so much is that some of them tend to forget the appropriate times to use these terms. For example, the phrase ‘LOL’ has become well-known on via the internet communication as a way of telling another person that you are laughing out loud. Because we have become so used to using this phrase to the point where when we are talking to friends face to face we forget and say ‘L.O.L’ or ‘laugh out loud’ instead of actually laughing or ‘BRB’ meaning ‘be right back’. American slang is turning into British English. I have noticed that with my friends they tend to say BRB even if we are speaking face to face but instead of actually saying that they will be back they choose to shorten it due to the influence of the internet, almost as if technology language has brainwashed us. As a part of my primary research I did a had conversations with friends but without their knowledge I studied each word that they used in each sentence so that I could work out what they have added into their own way of language which is influenced by technology. Something that was very noticeable in my research was that they would say “I dno” instead of saying it as “I don’t know” but because they have become so used to saying it as you spell it via technology it comes out all wrong, or other friends would say ‘O.M.G’ instead of saying ‘oh my God’. It is clear to see that there is a huge influence of technology which is why they are butchering the English language. Another disadvantage is that when teenagers are writing in an exam or essays at school, they might forget and spell words in the text form instead of spelling it correctly. For example, some might say ‘u’ or ‘r’ instead of spelling it in Standard English even if they are writing for towards something important. And this can put in a fear of the lack of Standard English left within the world.
The book ‘New Media Language’ explains different theories of how technology is changing language today. Traditional Valentine’s Day cards came under serious threat due to the new mobile phone applications were they could send virtual Valentine’s Day special text messages (sponsored by Virgin Mobile 2000). The author goes onto explains in the chapter that over 23 million people sent virtual love messages to one another and whilst the phone company were rejoicing about the new age of virtual romance, conservative people saw the English literacy as slowly destructing. The reason being is because the way in which the valentine’s day cards were written was not considered to be standard English as they all said ‘I LUV U’ written in an SMS form (also known as text speak) which I think raises the question, are the new forms of technology like mobile phone language harming literacy and the development of communication.
World known celebrities that the young generation see on TV in their everyday life can also have an impact on how language is changing. For example, the slang ‘BFF’ is known for meaning ‘best friend forever’, something created by the heiress Paris Hilton for her TV show. Something very noticeable within the language of the new generation is how they use the word ‘like’ after every few words or if telling a story in a conversation instead of saying ‘I said’ they usually say ‘I went’. It is safe to say that this type of language is influenced by the American movies and TV shows such as ‘Clueless’ or ‘The Hills’ because we see that the famous young Americans are speaking that way on our TV screens so we adapt that into our own version of the standard English because in the twenty-first century it is moving faster and it is all caused by the globalisation of broadcasting and technology. Anthony Burke is an ex-English teacher who has a fascination on how the English language has evolved through the influence of technology. He also agrees with the statement I made that the internet and technology has made new slang and how people communicate in a different language and vocabulary because when we are texting or blogging, we have created a style suite what looks cool for the new trend. Technology is popular amongst teenagers because it is a fun way of communicating to one another weather it is via email or text because writing letters is something people hardly ever do anymore. Communicating via technology is faster and more efficient and is a part of our culture like for example when you are using the chat rooms, you don’t want to keep the person on the other end waiting for too long so you decide to use short terms for words to make the communication easier and quicker.
For example, On the article ‘How technology influences spelling’ by Janice Hally, she indicates how text speak is becoming a more common form of communication, especially for the younger generation and it seems like being understood is more important than being correct. However, in the article “Texting is not killing off the English language” there was a study conducted by two linguistics at the University of Toronto. They looked into the language used on instant messaging systems and found that abbreviations used made up only a tiny fraction of the communication and did not affect user’s grammatical skill. They analysed more than 1.5 million words of SMS conversations and discovered that only 2.44 per cent of the words used were text language. With the statement that Janice Hally made, I think she is saying that when it comes to technology such as networking sites like Facebook and phone texting becoming an increasingly popular form of communication, the Standard English has gone out of the window because we have formed our own sense of language. However, with the counter argument from the study of the University of Toronto, it tells us that texting is not destroying the English language because it is only a small majority of people who use the text language. Another reason why technology is changing the way we use language is because the new generation especially teenagers keep shortening words by creating slang when they are using SMS or messenger. One of the reason why teenagers do this is because it’s like a code to our peers that can be kept away from the parents and it gives us our own style, something nobody else can understand and creates secrecy which is something most teens lack in the homes or on their mobile phones and computers. And also because it is just so much quicker than writing out a full word we can make the conversation speeded up, almost like we get to design our own version of the English language. The only problem is that this has become so much easier that teens are choosing to use this way of language even when they are not on the computer, on the phone or using any other forms of technology causing the new generation to get the blame on the English language deteriorating.
Overall I think Language is something that is ever evolving to suit the new generation. Now that we have the internet and social networking sites, the language is just changing slightly faster and more noticeable even though it is something that has been happened over the past 50 years and the only certainty is that it will continue to change as the years go by because technology will never stop, it will only get better and change and it will take the English language along with it. Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate and the things we do, and as new things become possible, we have to find new ways to describe them. And that is how I think technology is changing the way we use language.
References: Allison, R. (2001) ‘Phone txt chat “harms literacy”’, The Guardian, 22 January 2001 Baron, N. (2000) From Alphabet to Email, London: Routledge Bibliography: New Media Language (Diana M. Lewis and Jean Aitchison) Websites: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/omg-tweetup-is-a-candidate-for-the-dictionary-lol-20100101-llst.html http://savvycitizens.bcs.org/communication/how-the-internet-is-changing-the-english-language-and-the-ways-we-speak http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10971949