September 15, 2008

How Social Media is Impacting Grammar and Language

Posted in Social Media tagged at 9:11 am by R

I bet my mom is gonna jump on this one.

Here’s the back story: My Uncle Larry just joined Facebook. Oh yes. It’s a family affair now. He sent me a message that said, and I quote:

You can tell them if Uncle Larry can do it…..
bumper sticker brevity and YB poignancy – c even i’m doing it!

It was the ‘c’ that caught my eye. He meant ‘see,’ but more importantly, did my mom’s cool older brother just phonetically spell in a social media format? This wasn’t a text. This was a message. Presumably typed on a keyboard.

OMG! What’s happening to the sanctity of the English language!?

It’s an evolution. Our means of communication has changed and it follows that our language must do the same.

Social media communication requires a new way of speaking (I’ll quote Uncle Larry again):

It is like communicating in the strange language of bumper sticker brevity and Yogi Berra poignancy, one thought at a time.

Clearly, it goes with out saying that my Uncle Larry, with bumper-sticker-brevity-and-Yogi-Berra-poignancy no less, summed up what communicators, sociologist, marketers and other cultural attaches have been trying to put to words.

In a new world where abbreviations abound and text language is common place. It’s the message that is at the core of communication. And while the brevity and inventive spelling may irk some (like my mother the English professor), isn’t the point simply to understand each other?

Do U C what I mean?

~Robyn

About these ads

8 Comments »

  1. Momma said,

    And to think our father was an English teacher! ; )
    What would Grampa have thought of all this? He certanly knew language is a living thing – it evolves – sometimes faster than we can type. And for my generation (Baby Boomer) the transition has been so swift – with the advent of PCs!

    How do I see poor grammar? When I receive a letter with errors of punctuation, capitalization, spelling, etc. a red flag goes up. 1) the person did not take the time to present the BEST even though his/her name is on it.
    2) if this professional does not pay attention in the little things, why should I consider hiring him/her for the contract which involves complex actions.?

    The point is well made – bumper-sticker brevity is incredibly creative. and Yogi Berra quips have a gold truth in each. But in the work environment – in business versus social communication the “boundaries of grammar” apply. Students do not “text” me because 1) I am not in their social network 2) I am giving them the opportunity to practice formal communication, such as they will need in the near future.
    Until all of us “roadkill on the information highway” are gone – there will be formal grammar. The grammar itself may change, it must. But there will always be a place for formal writing in business, government, diplomacy etc.

    And wise folks will heed the words of Cut Me Some Flack witty Blogger, my Berta!

    4 U I C much pwr and hrt

    So sayeth your faithful fan,
    Momma, the English professor.
    Compassion is the foundation of leadership.

  2. Uncle Larry said,

    Please note the words of wisdom from my favorite still-in-uniform sister. There is something to be said about the safety of using words in a common structure for a common purpose in modern media; Sis uses the different examples of business, government, diplomacy. OK, I buy all of that.

    Marshall McLuhan thought long and hard about this back in the 60’s, almost 50 years ago. So these thoughts have not crept up on us unawares. We have gone in with eyes wide open. MM sounds so prophetic; and even more so after knowing that the PC and internet were still more than 30 years away from invention when he wrote about it! Indulge me a Wiki clip:

    ” All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. (p. 26)”

    “The Medium is the Massage demonstrates how modern media are extensions of human senses; they ground us in physicality, but expand our ability to perceive our world to an extent that would be impossible without the media. These extensions of perception contribute to McLuhan’s theory of the Global Village, which would bring humanity full circle to an industrial analogue of tribal mentality. ”

    We have entered into a New Age of Anxiety and will not understand impacts without time and study. The laws of tetrad will guide us in this quest; but alas, I have drunk the New Media Cool Aid and the effects are kicking in. Writing to this New Media Global Village and feeding this dragon is tiring me……..

  3. Momma said,

    These comments show some of the pedigree of the young blogger – daughter and granddaughter of teachers of English! Sheesh!

    A PR pro who wrote about the “Psychotic peg-legged pilot of the Pequod”!

    And I want to edit my entry and remove the period before the question mark- “complex actions.?” should be “complex actions?”. If one of my cadets spied that I would owe someone a quarter.

  4. [...] you’re sending a personal email, avoid abbreviations, especially texting short forms. However, certain workplace abbreviations like FYI, CC, etc. are considered [...]

  5. [...] you’re sending a personal email, avoid abbreviations, especially texting short forms. However, certain workplace abbreviations like FYI, CC, etc. are considered [...]

  6. [...] Social media is a step up from texting: Unless you’re updating all your messages on a mobile device, remember that social media is a step up from texting. If you’re typing on a keyboard, you can type out the whole word. [...]

  7. [...] Social media is a step up from texting: Unless you’re updating all your messages on a mobile device, remember that social media is a step up from texting. If you’re typing on a keyboard, you can type out the whole word. [...]

  8. [...] Social media is a step up from texting: Unless you’re updating all your messages on a mobile device, remember that social media is a step up from texting. If you’re typing on a keyboard, you can type out the whole word. [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: