Selasa, 07 Agustus 2012

Language after Twitter

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 (

2 komentar:

  1. dude... you always keep that very passion for linguistic research. balik kul maning kono... :D nice post!

    and my comment on twitter, well, i guess twitter is as good as it is created to be. it accommodates the need of quick communication for modern people. see, people getting busier every day. they hardly meet face to face and even if they have time for that, it will be as short as a few minutes. hence, it is impossible to wish them having such a communication we had a few decades back.

    now, we don't define "hanging out" as perhaps, what our parents think about the words. it may include longer time and more relaxed environment, for instance, which our generation already lacks of.

    twitter helps people to keep in touch without actually having to meet face to face. see that you're miles away from me. we live on different time regions, yet i can learn about what you are doing this week by reading your tweets. or suppose we're at the same place but a way too busy to greet each other... still, twitter helps. i can respond your sayings or questions, for instance, although it may come 45 minutes afterwards or even a day or a week if by chance i haven't opened it for longer time.

    some people think social media communications ruin the so called "real communications", which is the face to face communication but what i think is just the opposite. if there is nothing like twitter or facebook, we will lack of human communications... as the time hardly permit to do what we did years ago.

    and regarding to some changes to words, well, for me, as long as the intended messages can be understood by other parties who are included in that particular conversation, i do not see it as a problem.

    paulo colhe once tweeted that he loves twitting because twitter challenges him to express his idea in a very short line that is 140 words.

    *apologies for any typo

  2. hahaha thanks, actually this article is for my office's internal magazine. I go with the idea that the 140 character challenges us in some way, but yeah like a knife it always has another sharp side. Our vocabulary is reduced, and grammatically correct sentences will be very rare :)