✏️ and 👅 in the 💻 🌍

(Okay, so the title is ‘Writing and speaking in the digital world’ ✌️)

In class, we have already discussed emojis, their advantages (such as that of boosting people’s sense of inclusion – you can read a paper about it here) and possible negative aspects. During one of the classes, I briefly mentioned an article discussing how emojis are ruining the English language. It argues that since we heavily rely on emojis to express what we need to, we tend to simplify our vocabulary and sentences’ structure. I see the point it had been made, as I definitely don’t put much effort into my texts as I know that if I want my messages to come across as funny or sarcastic, I can just add an emoji rather than having to work on my language. The use of emojis can, however, be seen in two different lights 1. it is in fact ruining languages and 2. communication means are developing and we should accept that. But during that one class, Dr Mol welcomed the development of written language through the use of emojis as he saw it as going back to a more primordial authentic way of communicating, that of facial expressions. Such comment has definitely made me see emojis in a more positive light and maybe we should simply seek great forms of written communication and locations to improve these elsewhere rather than in chats or on Twitter.

However, this way of writing and online slangs have for sure also infiltrated and modified the way I think and verbally communicate. I notice it especially when I speak to my mom. With her, I only speak in Italian but my ‘internet language’ is English. Often, when talking to her, I struggle to express my thoughts and wish we were speaking in English instead. This is not because I don’t spend enough time speaking in Italian but because interestingly, a lot of words that I struggle or don’t know how to translate are from my ‘internet vocabulary’. Examples of this could be ‘troll’, ‘to ghost’ or ‘omg’ (yes, sometimes I actually say o.m.g). And just a couple of weeks ago, I realised that my grandmother doesn’t understand the word ‘blog’ because she doesn’t spend enough (or any) time on the Internet. What I am trying to say is not that there is no equivalent for these words in other languages or that it is a generational issue but that words originated on the Internet (which I experience in English) and initially strictly recluded to its world have now not only modified my written but also my speaking vocabulary.

There are also interesting examples of ‘regular’ written language actively trying to adapt to the Internet’s. Last week, I came across a book called ‘Uncreative Writing Managing Language in the Digital Age’ by Kenneth Goldsmith (2011) which discusses various forms ‘patchwriting’ (all of which from digital sources) and how they can instead be used in creative (or in this case, as the title of the book says, ‘uncreative’) writing. The one example that interests me and amuses me the most of this type of writing is the use of Google search in order to write poetry.

In conclusion, from emojis to the copy-and-paste function technology has definitely made me lazier when it comes to writing (and let’s be honest, the cmd+f shortcut made lazy for reading too). And internet slang has infiltrated my everyday vocabulary but saying that emojis or more generally the Internet is ruining languages does not seem to be representative of what is really happening.