Thanks to technology that limits the bantering once allowed through social media (see MySpace’s lengthy posts for reference), users of all ages and English levels have revolted to an ongoing list of tactics. From acronyms that create a phrase, to abbreviations that save typing space, the Internet is becoming more and more difficult to understand. Shortened words, awkward punctuation in lieu of art, and emoticons out the wazoo – they’re all overtaking my online space. A single surf can send me to Urban Dictionary or slang aggregators multiple times – and being online is my job.
Rather than trying to figure out how all the tweens can read each other’s minds (why is ITYM “I think you mean” and not “I tossed your [junk] mail” or “It’s top Yen market.”?), I’ll continue to type what I mean through chat, text, and email. You know, with actual words, not just letters. Does it take more time? Perhaps, but if there’s confusion in my online conversations, it’s out of human error, not subject matter. And an added perk, my typing speed has skyrocketed from all the practice; I’ve got the carpal tunnel to prove it.
Besides, how does one pronounce ITYM – eye-tem, as in item? As in a word that needs no explanation to English speakers above the age of four? The last thing English needs is more homonyms; the Internet tells me there is already between 8,000 and 12,000. I can name significantly less.
The Future and 26-letter Pick Up
It’s a risky game, adjusting a language for the sake of online and/or technology use. Forever shortening and adding new meanings to what once indicated falling asleep on one’s keyboard. However, it’s a branch of language that looks like it’s here to evolve. Soon there will be acronyms for acronyms, new uses for punctuation, and synonyms that new generations will pen, leaving today’s emoticon masters in the dark. There’s already “stackronym,” which means combining abbreviations to create new ones. (For those over the age of 19, these are known as portmanteaux.) What’s next? An entire separate language for online chatting? Varying dialects and accents – or rather spellings as they’re typed, not spoken?
There’s no telling just how far the chat type will go.
Either way, when it comes to SOWFSS (shortening one’s words for the sake of space), count me out. I’ll continue to avoid alphabet soup unless it comes in a can.
photo courtesy of Agonyis.com