Monday, November 13, 2006


Here are some questions. I approach this as a linguist, knowing that chat and text-messaging are different and are used in different environments. I really have only experienced chat myself- I've seen and asked people about text-messaging but will have to reserve judgement on them at least until I have a cell phone.

1. chat and text-messaging seem to be taking up an increasing amount of people's energy and real-time communication. Inevitably they will take over as a primary language for some, much as spoken dialect is more common in many people's daily lives than formal written English. Spoken English is clearly seen as the source of written English; however, with chat, written English can be seen as the source of chat and text-messaging, with all abbreviations relying on users' knowledge of the formal version from which it springs. OK, now presumably some people are starting with chat, but not learning the formal English? Presumably some people are beginning to live in chat so much that they lose sight of formal as a separate entity? I'm curious about what begins to happen to people who are doing this.

2. There are chat dialects, but they are not geographical. They are more like jargon, where people in certain environments become free to make certain abbreviations partly because they need and use them so much. What kinds of chat dialects are there? Can they be, or are they being, documented?

3. Certain chat words, lol, are finding their way into mainstream speech and writing (writing more often) - already. lol is as far as I can tell a pioneer- easily recognizable for its own reasons, I presume. afk, cya, l8r is one from text-messaging I assume. Do chat and texting mix? Is there code-switching? How much and where? I assume that myspace & facebook would be good places to start.

4. My students do chatting and texting in their own I'm really curious about that. Presumably they have the same cell phone I'd get if were to go out and get one. I know they're sitting at the same kind of computer half the time yet also have access now to their own fonts. So what does chatting in Korean look like? Japanese? Chinese? Arabic? Texting in each?

5. Just as driving in a place with lots of small cars changes your perception of driving, chatting quickly and with smaller words changes your communication: your style, your perception, your diction, your ability to manage different conversations at once...what else? Who is looking into this?

6. I limit my son to 3 hours a day of an online game where he chats as he plays. Clearly he's a fluent typist and flings around chat terms that I don't recognize- in a sense he knows another language and speaks it more than he does formal written English. But is it bad for him? It's clearly good for his typing. And I'm kind of a blog junkie myself, so I have to keep an open mind. But I'm not one to say we have a universal capacity or innate language mechanism...I'd say, we're all in a canoe, and the rapids are picking up a little.

The world is changing. I'm a'get an IM account, n chat w/folks f i can.


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