Online Lingua Franca?

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You're probably wondering what online lingua franca is and you're probably wondering why I'm referring to it. Well, online lingua franca is English adapted for the spitfire conversational style of Internet instant messaging. This spitfire style is taking over the academic world.

In Jennifer Lee's article, "I Think, Therefore IM," she interviewed Jesse Shedidlower, the North American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, who explained that "there is no official English language. Language is spread not because not anyone dictates any one thing to happen. The decisions are made by the language and the people who use the language.'' The teenage society today has pushed the boundaries of spoken language, introducing words that adults find hard to adapt to. I find it bewildering that this sort of text language is being implemented into actual school work. It is with the help of the new emerging technology that gives rise to the tweens' new social lingo

For many teachers and professors, they believe the real issue is carelessness as explained in the article, "IM Shortcuts Popping Up in the Real World". As I wrote in my blog about how the informal style of electronic messages are showing up in school work, I explained  that I personally have never used emoticons, text shortcuts or omitted proper grammar and punctuation in my schoolwork, but outside of essays and other schoolwork, I find myself using this new form of communication frequently.

Within that blog, I received a comment from MS arguing "that as an English teacher, all that I have to say is that these IM's and text messages are destroying the English language faster than anything else... This abomination of our language is not cute, hip or expressive; it is dangerous." that sparked an idea in my Professor's, Dr. Jerz, mind to elaborate more about this topic on his own blog. Dr. Jerz clarified that he knows "many student writers who can text with winged thumbs, and also turn out well-written research papers on literary theory." 

He has yet meet a student who can't expand this online lingua franca into complete sentence. "For every accidental "ur" (a popular IM abbreviation for "your"), I see at least as many examples of "per say" (a mondegreen for "per se") and "should of" (a similar mishearing of "should have"), and all manner of similar mistakes ("That story was bias" for "That story was biased") that have nothing to do with text messaging, and a lot to do with the fact that tweens and teens live in a largely oral culture,"Jerz said.

A senior classmate, Andrew Lonigro, explained in his blog that in his experience and his understanding of the evolution and history of language, generation by generation there are changes that take place. Andrew used the example that "when looking at the transition from Old English to Middle English to Early Modern English and so on, there are constantly new rules and new jargin that change and evolve the language."

This phenomenon that is taking place with new online language is a result of the search for the quickest and most convenient way to communicate to others. The English language is changing once again in correspondence with society's changes, especially with technology.

In Tamar Lewin's "Informal Style of Electronic Messages is Showing Up in Schoolwork, Study Finds," she
finds that "as e-mail messages, text messages and social network postings become nearly ubiquitous in the lives of teenagers, the informality of electronic communications is seeping into their schoolwork." Nearly 300 students that were surveyed said their e-communication style sometimes bled into school assignments.

Karissa Kilgore and Jay Pugh, SHU graduates, did a presentation in my Literary Criticism class two years ago where they argued that IM chat and text messaging wasa new form of writing and language. Karissa wrote on her blog, "With its pervasiveness, IM language is becoming a genre all its own. It has conventions like any other, and develops as the technology does. Although many find IM language to be a lack of form, the reality of the language is that the lack of 'form' creates the newer version of form."

I couldn't agree with her more. Any type of writing is real writing even if it is improper. They are still expressing their views, ideas and thoughts just with using shortcuts and other forms of the new English language to express it in a quicker manner. They just need to learn how to revise the shortcuts before handing in an academic paper.

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6 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

I agree with you about any type of writing even improper writing being real. It made me think of languages. The English don't think Americans speack real English. They think we've made it into a great mess. While we (or at least I) think, ebonics has corrupted the English language. But, to some people, its a way to express themselves. Maybe online lingua franca is thought of that way. It can and should be used by certain people at certain times and in certain places (online versus in school).

Andy Lonigro said:

When it comes down to it, you have to think about the context that this generation is using online lingua franca. Are they writing in their English papers? Are they simple using it to text their friends. And I'm not completely ignoring the fact that this online lingua franca is sneaking into assigned essays and research paper as accident. But, is English really being destroyed? I feel that each generation has it's own addition to the adaptation of language. English in Europe is different than English in America. That principle can be applied to the spheres of academic and recreational writing. And, not to mention, we may be overlooking two somewhat different issues here: writing vs. communicating. This is definitely a tricky issue.

Kevin Hinton said:

I agree... any writing is a share of ideas. However, I really don't think that this kind of writing is going to take over all aspects od writing. As time progresses, that thin lne would olny get thicker as professors and teacher fight to keep it out of the classroom. But it won't stop kids from using it. The Lewin article backs me up on this.

Oh and in response to your comment on my blog:

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/KevinHinton/2008/09/do-we-measure-o.html

Alex Hull said:

"The teenage society today has pushed the boundaries of spoken language, introducing words that adults find hard to adapt to."

I agree. How often do you hear an "omg" or an "lol" used in everyday conversation? Quite often. But today's teenagers are tomorrow's adults. If we are ruining the English language (which I don't believe we are) we are ruining it for ourselves and our children. It is our fault and something that we would have to live with.

I don't believe we are in danger of ruining the English language though. This form of writing, in what is web shorthand, is useful but not used by all. Shorthand was used by secretaries to take faster notes. We use abbreviations in our notes in class. And we use web shorthand online and in text messaging. Secretary shorthand and class note abbreviations have not ruined the English language. Neither will web shorthand.

Alex Hull said:

I typed a very long and in-depth comment... and it didn't post. I'm going to attempt to recreate it:

"The teenage society today has pushed the boundaries of spoken language, introducing words that adults find hard to adapt to. I find it bewildering that this sort of text language is being implemented into actual school work."

How often do you hear an "omg" or "lol" slipped out in conversation? Quite often. If we are using this slang in our everyday conversations, it is natural that it will start to appear in our academic papers, even if it is unacceptable. I do find using web shorthand in papers to be unacceptable.

I completely agree with you on the point that online slang is useful, even though I hardly use it. It's still real writing even if the words are written in a different way.

I don't believe that web shorthand is a threat to our language as some believe. Secretaries used shorthand for faster note taking and students use their own abbreviations for notes in class. Neither of these forms have endangered our language and I don't think web shorthand stands to either.

I agree with all of you that neither of these forms have endangered our language and I don't think web shorthand stands to either.
Andy raises the point that we may be overlooking two somewhat different issues here: writing vs. communicating.
A tricky issue it is, but a clear one. When we write a paper, we use correct grammar. When we are communicating to a friend whether it be through text or e-mail, we use the web shorthand to get the point across as fast as possible.

Yes, we have pushed the boundaries of spoken language, introducing words that adults find hard to adapt to, but it doesn't look they are going to leave anytime soon.

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This page contains a single entry by West Coast Envy published on September 20, 2008 8:16 PM.

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