Table of Contents
Email Jennifer Chien
Email Thomas Grano
It generally holds that nothing is static, and human language is certainly no exception. Language has most likely existed in some form since the first humans emerged some 200,000 years ago. Linguists generally agree, however, that "after 10,000 years no traces of a language remain in its descendants" (Pinker 1994, p. 259). The languages simply evolve themselves out of existence.
Despite this, many people, particularly the educated among us, are reluctant to accept linguistic change.
Recently, the arrival of the Internet has spawned a new kind of language, tailored to compensate for some of the shortcomings of online communication.
This language has come to be known as "Netspeak," embraced by some and condemned by others.
(Click here for a list of "Netspeak" terms.)
Teenagers, the most frequent users of instant messaging and other forms of simultaneous online communication, have been the chief proponents of this emerging style.
But now consider Stanford students. Rigorously trained in proper writing techniques and conventions, yet also demographically considered the most frequent users of instant messaging, they now have the technology to communicate with friends, family and classmates as much as they want.
So do they resist this trendy "Netspeak" in favor of rules and tradition, or do they give in to the idea that new modes of communication require new conventions? And if so, to what extent?
Also, let's consider a greater implication of this new kind of language. Today's generation of teenagers is the first to have been born in the midst of the digital age, and one has to wonder how this will affect their thinking. If students get accustomed to using Netspeak online, is there any danger that they will become so glib with it that some of its slangy aspects will creep into their academic writing? Will this be a problem at the collegiate level?
This website attempts to answer these questions.