Archive for the ‘07. Internet Language’ Category

Effects of the Internet on Language

November 21, 2007

One facet of the Internet culture breach that considerably worries me is that of its effects on language.  In our case it’s the English language.  Since the inception of the Internet as a mainstream tool in our society, teachers of all levels have attested to the disintegration of their students’ writing ability.  Oh the irony that our mother tongue is not related to our father fingers.  Spellcheck on the computer is one thing, even I will confess that my vocabulary and ability to spell both took a grave hit upon my introduction to Microsoft word.   (Damn you Bill Gates once more!)   However, I should stress here that writing my papers on the computer was not by choice but rather it was required by the very same teachers that are complaining of this language degradation.  Hmmm, so always remember that one hand washes the other…  But I digress.  Moving on, what’s far worse is that the Internet culture promotes writing short-cuts and slang – it has become the norm even.   It is fashionably acceptable and expected. 

leet01.jpg
Are you as lost and/or confused as I?

Jennifer Lee, a New York Times staff writer, would concur with these sentiments.  In a piece she wrote entitled “I Think, Therefore IM,” Jennifer notes that as more and more teenagers socialize online, middle school and high school teachers […] are increasingly seeing a breezy form of Internet English jump from e-mail into schoolwork” (Lee, 123).   Teachers that she interviewed confessed that “papers are being written with shortened words, improper capitalization and punctuation, and [increased] characters like &, $ and @ (Lee, 123).   They have been dubbed the “Generation Text,” but are teens the only people that have subscribed to this electronic scribble?

leet02.jpg
This sign says “go” to me – good thing there is no traffic

Leet, or leetspeak, oh I’m sorry – 1337 – is a highly touted form of language derived from the Internet.  It is composed of combinations of alphanumerics to replace proper lettering.  “1337” itself is the leet form of writing “elite” for instance.  Originated by hackers, 1337 is now widely used over the Internet by many segments of the population.  Personally, I would refer to it as a defining piece of the Internet culture, as it has become a language all of its own, and sought out to be learned by the masses.  Yet instead of language all I see is a micro-ism reflective of our current society.  Typically less key strokes are used to cut down on type time – so what’s another short-cut mounted onto this lazy, a-second-saved civilization anyways?  To me, leet is just another example of how the “Internet Age” has hurt society.  What’s proper English in comparison to saving ten or fifteen minutes of type time?  Our language only defines us as a people, but ignoring – erasing it – to save some time…  that doesn’t say anything about us, right?  You know what, I could have probably saved half the time typing this blog if I had used 1337 myself.  

ur2cute.jpg
It’s not the candy that’s making me sick…

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l8r sk8rz
J4M35

P.S.  The leet speak translator can be found at this here link:
http://www.kfdev.com/development/javascript/leettrans.htm