online English

The blogger’s rebellion!

Online English month continues with regular contributor Caroline Short looking at the language of blogs.


The language of the blogosphere is an interesting beast. Unlike more restrictive social media platforms, blogs allow us room to write correctly. And yet, more often than not bloggers choose to distort their native tongue, playing with words, making verbs from nouns and messing with tenses, and plain ignoring précis in favour of elaborate prose. Metaphors are stretched to extremes, tested, indeed, until they snap. Pop culture references are rife, particularly if they’re niche-specific.

Let’s take my personal blog as an example. Some of it is exclusively British English, as my lovely international readers let me know when they have to look up a particular word or phrase. Some of it is distinctly old-fashioned, words and word orders that have been dropped from common usage, reflecting my passion for all things historical. And some of it is deliberately skewed: misused and abused phrases like “all sewed up” (“all sewn up” would be correct) and “nor nuthink” (“or anything”), incorrect spellings (there’s that “nuthink” again), sentences broken up with question marks for emphasis (or humorous effect) and a general disrespect for the grammar for which, as an editor, you’d think I’d be a stickler.

But for my part, I think this grammatical rebellion is what makes blogging so spectacular. Every blogger has their own unmistakable voice, every blog its own individual style. The combination of liberation from spacial constraints and the non-restrictive nature of web-based writing creates a vacuum in which anything goes, and into which creativity can pour without limitation. Those without the necessary understanding to twist and exploit language will continue to write badly, and flounder or improve accordingly. But those with the requisite knowledge and vocabulary are finally given the opportunity to shine.

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Caroline Short

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