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  • Researchers: IM definitely infectious, but associated linguistic damage short-lived, haha

Comments Apr 26, 2008 11:37 am

Dennis, for such a smart post. If texting is harming our brains (since aome of us older than teens text), we surely want to know about it. But in the meantime, it's a good question as to why James Billington might make such a claim. Any thoughts on that?


Reply to at 11:37 am Apr 26, 2008 1:36 pm

Billington was speaking in early April at the LOC in connection with release of NAEP data showing small gains in writing test scores among lower-achieving students.  There's a link to the NY Times article about this in the post.

Reply to at 1:36 pm Aug 15, 2008 6:09 pm

"BBQ" is searched for FAR more often on Google than "Barbeque" or "Barbecue".  You would think maybe that Bar-B-Q would also rank high, but it doesn't. 


Keeping up with the changing English language and knowing what people are apt to search for is a full time job for a webmaster and it isn't getting any better.

I'm just glad I don't run sites for teens.  OMG!


Reply to at 6:09 pm Nov 18, 2008 8:24 am

Greetings,I continually tried to post this on your "Web of Language" blog, specifically on the post entitled "Researchers: IM definitely infectious, but associated linguistic damage short-lived, haha" but had no such luck. I have included my comments below if you are interested!! Perhaps you could post them as a comment? The computer wouldn't allow me to do so. Or you may comment back on my blog: I am very interested by your post about instant messaging, especially the points that made me reconsider my overall negative views of online abbreviations. For example, you say that high-school-aged users may sometimes add an "OMG" while typing, but "such alphabetisms inflict no more linguistic damage than Ben Bernanke mentioning 'NGO�s' at a meeting of the Fed." This is a valid point; no one would criticize Bernanke for shortening "non-governmental organization" because an abbreviation in this situation makes him sound credible and informed in the field. Similarly, doctors in an emergency room say "run an EKG" to express themselves quickly, whereas repeating "electrocardiogram" is inefficient if a patient is experiencing heart failure. Although a term like "OMG" clearly is not as important as "EKG" in my previous example, people use condensed speech to make a point in a timely manner, despite its frivolousness. Condensing English in such a way does not appear detrimental as long as it is used accordingly and the individual knows the phrase's elongated meaning. The English language might be transforming, for better or for worse, as a consequence of rapidly-moving lifestyles that cause humans to shorten speech. I would be more concerned if individuals grew up exclusively using terms like "ttyl" and "omg" because those abbreviations would have become a substitute for the four-word and three-word phrase, respectively. If a succession of letters like these begins to take on meanings in and of itself, problems would undoubtedly arise, for example while trying to translate words when learning a foreign language, or having a foreigner learn English. I suppose it could be viewed as a sort of slang used regionally, just as colloquial Spanish is different in Mexico, El Salvador, and Spain. What are your thoughts regarding the transformation of the English language? Do you think such abbreviations would ever merit addition to a traditional dictionary? As evidence that the English is undergoing change, you cite a Pew Internet Project study citing that 85 percent of American teens message digitally, while "38 percent incorporate shortcuts like LOL in their book reports, and fewer still, about 25 percent, use emoticons like the smiley face, in the essays." This does not seem to concern you, but I believe this is worrisome. When you state that teens are "cued in to enough linguistic nuances" that they can distinguish "what's appropriate for some kinds of writing may not be appropriate for others," but this is an alarmingly high number using internet-speak in the classroom.

Reply to at 8:24 am