Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I've neglected this blog for what, a few years. But it's not because I've lost interest in chat and what it does and what you can do with it. Chat has, overall, been subsumed by texting. Texting has exploded as a means of communication. People focus less on the live interaction, chat, IMing they call it sometimes, because it's so convenient to just shoot texts back and forth at will, at one's leisure. This spreads it out more.

The total amount of informal writing continues to skyrocket. I read an article recently that was using trillions - trillions of texts? A few people study it around the edges. My impulse is to collect these studies and collect our gathered knowledge about texting with the intention of being a linguist of texting.

The vast majority of news stories about texting involve texters who killed someone on the highway, or were involved in accidents of some sort. Then you have the legislatures and city governments that are criminalizing texting and driving. If you wade through those you find a few others about how texting has vastly changed social life for young people and in fact anyone who lives in a world where people are actively texting. Finally, you get the studies around the edges, where people are figuring out who is using emoticons, and why, and to what degree.

Emoticons are interesting because they are part of what makes texting different from regular written communication. Let's see, you have shortened words, lol, a few of these and those, and emoticons. My point as a linguist is that texters would have different dialect patterns than others because so much of it goes across geographical boundaries. I would basically like to do for texting what Labov did for dialects: map them. Figure out the distribution of dialects within networks. Find out who is using what, where.

My main justification for studying it as a linguist would be this: If people relate to the phone - they change what they type based on the phone - and the phone changes what they type - then, making language is a very different process than it used to be back in the era of oral and plain written communication. Phones change what we type. Phones' auto correct essentially trains us to type some things and not others. On the interpreting end we have to guess sometimes what somebody intended to type. All this points to a different process than Saussure, and even Chomsky, tried to explain.

I may collect some of this stuff here, but better yet, I may just start a new site and set of resources. I have to bring back much of my online stuff anyway. This poor site was getting pretty stale and old. But it holds stuff that is important to me, old chat transcripts and the like. I'm not sure what will happen, I'm just stewing about the possibilities.