Yes, this up-to-140-characters long microblogging site known as Twitter is gaining massive popularity these days, not only in United State of America, from which the founder of the site, Jack Dorsey, is originated, but also in the whole world that it ended the domination of Facebook in social media realm. Since the day it was created in March 2006, it has been rapidly developed as now there are over 500 million active users with more than 340 million tweets generated daily. The popularity of the site inevitably influences people’s social aspects. Language is among those that are not immune to the influence. In fact, many have said that language suffers most due to the limitation of 140 characters. Ralph Fiennes, a Hollywood actor said that modern language is being eroded, and he blamed “a world of truncated sentences, soundbites and Twitter.” The modern age people often find difficulties in the sentence with more than one clause and the words of more than two syllables. For example, the density of Shakespeare text can be a challenge in a way for the younger generation that perhaps the people of few generations ago did not have. Even the famous Linguist, Noam Chomsky also mentioned Twitter lingo* as “very shallow communication” and regarded it as superficial “it requires a very brief, concise form of thought and so on that tends toward superficiality and draws people away from real serious communication. It is not a medium of a serious interchange.”
In contrary, some believe that Twitter is not ruining language but in fact it enriches it and makes it better. Aside of the abbreviations and the substituted words as well as the leetspeak*, Twitter also contributes new phrases or terms that are used both online and offline. These specific phrases allow people across the world to connect and interact in specific topics. As for scientist, those phrases enable them to easily gather information from Twitter just by search those phrases or words in it. Twitter is full of a variety of language that people may don’t understand, however the people from around the world can converse and interact using those specific Twitter terms or phrases that are widely known. In fact some Twitter words are also adopted in English dictionaries such as Oxford Learner Dictionary that lists the word “retweet” and “hashtag” as meaningful words.
For centuries, human’s culture is changing, evolving, and thus resulting in various social changes that affect our way of life and not to mention the language. The new communication era, not only via Twitter but also other means of communication such as short messages or telegraph, changes our communication attitude thus resulting in language shaping. Is it bad or good? You decide. After all a surviving language is an evolving language.
*lingo: the vocabulary of a particular field of interest (Merriam Websters Dictionary)
*leetspeak: a communication where a user replaces letters for numbers or other characters (www.computerhope.com)