Language of evolution

January 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Internet. It changed so much, and to sound extra pretentious: I don’t think we can grasp in any way just how much it changes us and social structures. Or language. Now, language and social hierarchies are connected at the most primal level, and I would say that the usage of digital textbased communication platforms (the internet! tadaa) is making that more apparent then ever.

For me it also makes me realize that my english writing is a combination between posh stiffness and a kindergarden hand-in. It’s horrible! Quite a few of my friends are english speaking only, and slowly slowly it dawned on me that they must think I’m stupid or at least utterly boring. These linguistical lows on the self esteem… Such is the faith of the overly sensitive.

But, even though this is just a small little bump, I still know that it did really bother me while I was in Australia last year, that people treated me like I was well, not stupid, but they treated me like I was dumber than I am. Why? Because they couldn’t know, I couldn’t communicate. I could smirk and gesture and make small comments and wave my way through quite complicated discussions about genetical structure in bonobos or whatever it might be, but I couldn’t really contribute. In the beginning because I got nervous, and later because I just couldn’t express myself well enough in multi-syllable land, even if I could express myself a little.

Anyhow. Using internet as a platform for social interaction (hi guys!) I notice how my english now getting closer and closer to the edge of not good at all. Why? Because interaction in this form makes me write in textspeak even when writing like this, in a one way-communication, or rather in a form thats not realtime. Tempus gets lost, small things like ‘s ‘ll ‘d and so on disappears. Why? Because they aren’t really used while talking, they are numb letters, just hanging around all alone.

Depending on where you hang out, there are different sociolects setting the tone. In some boards I hang out on, the tone is very americanized, very textspeaky, and a lot of spelling that like dat, or similar. To show appriecation and connection, new users often overdo this behaviour, to show they belong in the same group. It works like this in most social situations, you show that you want to belong by copying the behavioral patterns of the group. For textbased media, this goes to the extreme, but is rather interesting to watch. The result however is stronger sociolects but possibly lost dialects and a smeering out of differences between languages. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is different. Languages evolve just like we do and our social structure, and now they evolve faster then ever. It’s important to remember that language in it self has no value, the importance is to make yourself understood.

Say, if I was the only person left who understood and spoke swedish, would it really be a language then? Isn’t language defined as what we use to communicate?


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