language change and slang online English

Online English: some interesting links

We’re into our second week of online English and I thought it might be useful to put a few of the more interesting comments, articles, thoughts on online English in a post for your perusal.

2006: Of course, online English is closely tied into the subject of Global English, and David Crystal is the man to read in both cases. Clare Dudman has an interesting review of David Crystal’s thoughts in this post on her blog. The post is a few years old, but very interesting:

The internet, David Crystal says, is ideal for the linguistic addict. It is the latest of the major linguistic revolutions: the first was speech – about 100 000 years ago, the second was writing (separately evolved in different parts of the world 10 000 years ago) and the deaf sign language – no one knows when this evolved – maybe 500-600 years ago, but maybe much earlier.

2009: Laura Barton of the Guardian shared some of her favourite internet contributions to the language in this short article:

The meanings of well-known words (bookmark, surf, spam, web) have shifted dramatically, while our vocabularies have expanded to accommodate new ones. The lower-case is in ascendance, @ has flourished, the full stop has been reinterpreted as the “dot” and entire trends have been refreshed by the prefix “cyber”.

2010: Sometimes, online English is like a foreign language for other native speakers. Do you know what rickrolling means?:

Christopher Poole, founder of anarchic image message board 4Chan, had been called to testify during the trial of the man accused of hacking into US politician Sarah Palin’s e-mail account.
During the questioning he was asked to define a catalogue of internet slang that would be familiar to many online, but which was seemingly lost on the lawyers.

If you are one of those who needs internet terms translated, there’s a dictionary for you.

2011: Now that we’ve had so long to think about it, how is the internet really changing English? Is it serious?

“What people mention when they lament the ‘deterioration of language’ is people straying from supposed grammar rules,” Douglas Bigham, editor-in-chief of Popular Linguistics magazine, said. “The truth of the matter is that these supposed ‘rules’ were never really ‘rules’ to begin with.”

2011: We must also, of course, revisit this juicy question: Is the Internet Americanizing British English?

Take “I guess”, in the American sense of “I suppose”. One occasionally hears the phrase used that way in Britain, but always with the aura of a foreign import, like “sure”, to mean “yes”. But here’s the thing: go back to Chaucer, and you will find “I gesse” used exactly as the cousins now use it. You will, likewise, still hear “gotten” in parts of Lancashire and even, in some Dorset and Somerset villages, “fall” to mean autumn.

Perhaps by the time NELL has finished reading EVERYTHING, we’ll have an answer to all of our questions. My money is on 42.

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Laine Redpath Cole

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