ENGL383—How Emailing and Texting Became a Speech

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ENGL383The Uses of Language


<ul><li><p>Running head: HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p> How Emailing and Texting Became A Speech Tisha C. Lim English 383 Professor Coleman 2157 words May 12th, 2015 </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>1 Abstract With the rise of new media and technologies such as the internet and mobile phones, it would be interesting to find out if such changes, aside from the ease of communication and other benefits, would have any effect on the way people communicate with each other. I am curious to find out whether Linguist David Crystals notion that If the Internet is a revolution, therefore, it is likely to be a linguistic revolution is true. I wanted to find out how media helped shape the way we think, communicate and express our thoughts and the effects it had on the language we use, as well as if there are any possibilities that people would communicate differently (or engage in a very different discourse) in the future especially since we are already living in a post-digital era. I hoped to be able to find out if emailing and texting are a form of verbal communication rather than written communication because I know when I am engaging in either medium, I tend to think and express myself in a manner as if I am talking directly to the other party, although technically I am writing down (expressing my thoughts) to the other person via a medium. Through my research, I learned that due to the nature of the email and text messaging system (with the limitations on spacing and number of words), people began adopting simpler and a more direct style of communication. Messages became shorter and less elaborative. Words have been omitted and abbreviated. At the same time, the communication style became more expressive which gradually transformed into a speech. For instance, users began using unusual combinations of punctuations marks (also known as emotive punctuations) and random capitalizations to convey their emotions. They have also begun using phonetic-spelling words and emoticons to express their thoughts. In </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>2 short, I discovered that the nature of the medium has not only shaped the way users communicate, but also enabled them to open up a whole new and distinct discourse. Description of Data For this paper, I have selected journals written by several linguists and authors who are deeply knowledgeable and have done many research in the field of new media language. They include Naomi Baron, David Crystal, Allen Bell, Raymond Snoddy, Angela Kesseler and Alexander Bergs. I believe their perspectives would provide me insights as to how language and discourse have been significantly shaped and impacted with the rise of technology and online media and would give me an overview as to how such transformation has occurred over time. I believe the sources would provide me a good understanding as to how exactly email and texting have become a speech (verbal communication) rather than a form of written communication. Most importantly, I believe the sources would aid me in exploring and understanding Author Barbara Johnstones notion that Discourse is shaped by its medium and shapes the possibilities of its medium. The sources I selected were specific in the sense they touched from every aspect of language (e.g. spelling, capitalization, punctuation) and highlighted how such aspects shaped the discourse between email and text message users, as well as how they helped transform a medium that was once perceived as a written communication to a verbal communication. The sources also provided context as to why such changes (e.g. change in written language structure) had took place over time. </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>3 Discourse is shaped by the limitations and possibilities of its media, and the possibilities of communications media are shaped by their uses in discourse (Johnstone, 2008). Written communication and language have both evolved with the rise of modern technologies. This paper will explore how Linguist John Whorters perspective that texting (SMS) and emailing, which were once a form of written communication, have transformed into a form of verbal communication (that they have became a speech). The paper will also highlight the factors that contributed to such transformation and the impact it had on traditional usage of language and discourse. The shift in language and discourse structure in the media did not just occur overnight. According to New Media Language, the shift could be traced back to the early 18th century when newspaper was the main form of media. Author Allan Bell pointed out that as time progressed, news was presented and written in a more concise, tighter manner. He stated, There is linguistic compression, with function words dropped and the option for shorter, sharper lexical items. Some vocabulary is left behind as archaic. The discourse structure changed from multiple-decked headlines, which almost tell what the entire story was about to single, short, telegraphic headlines, which summarizes the lead sentence. Syntax and lexicon had also been tightened and were replaced by shorter, punchier items. In other words, written communication had become tighter. Bell highlighted that such change would later play an important role in future discourse in the media. Following the era of newspaper came the rise of television and radio. Although the shift from print to broadcast media happened very quickly, it did not triumph the unprecedented speed of the rise of mobile phones and the Internet. Author Raymond </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>4 Snoddy stated, Absolutely no one forecast the rise of SMSs (short text messages) to 750 million in December 2000. He noted, globalization and medialization processes have led to an increase in communication efficiency and speed. The purpose of emailing and texting is to aid communication, so people could communicate faster in a less costly manner. Although they were initially used for business purposes, but as more and more people begin using it for private communication, and the patterns and style of communication have also undergone changes as well. Written communication became less formal and more direct and straightforward. Email and text message users began using and adopting simpler words and are less elaborative (e.g. using metaphorical words) in their communication (Aitchison &amp; Lewis, 2001). In Language and the Internet, David Crystal highlighted that formal written language contains several standardized attributes. One of them is the orthographic feature. This feature includes the distinctive use of alphabet, capital letters, punctuation and spelling. The second attribute of the writing system is the grammatical feature. This feature is defined with the use of proper sentence structuring, word order, word inflections (e.g. using the correct subject-verb agreement) as well as the use of proper expressions (e.g. using words such as therefore, hence, moreover). The last attribute he highlighted is the discourse feature in which a text should be organized and structured in a logical and coherent way (such as starting with an introduction, followed by the body content and ending with a conclusion). Such attributes could be seen in prototypical, traditional hand-written letters, in which senders wrote in a careful, elevated without any error. However, such attributes are often not seen in emails or text messages. He noted that because there are no definite rules; for example, in school we are taught to write a letter with the support </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>5 usage manuals or guidelines provided by teachers, there are no set universal rules for writing an email (Crystal, 2001). McWhorter highlighted his Ted Talk that people do not think about the spelling or punctuation when they engaged in texting or emailing, and the scenario is the same when people engaged in conversations. He stated, No one thinks about capital letters or punctuation when one texts, but then again, do you think about those things when you talk? No, and so therefore why would you when you were texting? (McWhorter, n.d.) Aside from the change in the degree of formality, emailing and texting became more expressive and are written with emotion, at the spur of the moment. Crystal pointed out that emailing and texting are highly interactive in the sense that they are based on peoples reactions to the content (Crystal, 2001). Users responded to the content or the messages almost instantly like in a face-to-face verbal conversation. The configuration of email also plays a role in shaping how people communicate. Crystal stated that because the line-length setting might differ depending on each computer screen, email senders are advised to keep their writing tight and to keep their line length to 80 characters to ensure that the receivers are able to receive the message as it was written (Crystal, 2001). Linguist Naomi Baron mentioned that since SMS limits the users to use up 160 characters including spaces, SMS writers have started to use and conventionalized certain iconic and symbolic signs. Users express their thoughts and affection to the other party with the use symbols or graphical symbols known as emoticons such as </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>6 having a bad day, and I am unhappy about it. Emoticons is a representation for facial expression, and by using it, allows the receiver of the message to imagine the reaction of the sender. It is as if the receiver and the sender are talking to each other face-to-face, and that the receiver is able to see the facial expression of the other party. As a result of the limited spacing, the writing style of emailing and texting has become simpler and resemble to that of the verbal communication. Aside from emoticons, users had also begun using colloquial abbreviations, acronyms or Internet slangs such as YGTI (You get the idea) or TTYL (Talk to you later). Another example would be hows everythin goin 4 u? or som1 tell sugarlips I LOVE HER!!! (Aitchison &amp; Lewis, 2001). Notice that the inaccurate use of punctuations and capitalization. As McWhorter noted, people do not think about such aspects when engaging in texting or emailing because they treat them as a form of verbal communication (McWhorter, 2001). The capitalization and punctuations served as a form of verbal expression. The capitalization of I LOVE HER and the three exclamation marks that comes after it highlight that the sender is telling the receiver his or her affection in a very intense manner (as if he or she is saying the three words in a passionate tone). Crystal highlighted that email users use unusual, random combinations of punctuation marks to show their attitude and to express or emphasize their point of view (Crystal, 2001). For example, people use repeated use of commas (,,,) to indicate that pauses or silence. Another example would be Is this true?! Notice the combination of question mark and the exclamation; this highlights that the sender is puzzled but shocked at the same time (this combination allows the receiver to be able to imagine the puzzled facial expression and the reaction of the sender, as if they were together speaking directly with each other). Another example would be hey!!!!!!! which shows that the sender is delighted (Crystal, 2001) (it is </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>7 as if he or she is speaking in a very excited manner when he or she sees the other party although they are technically communicating through email). Such aspect is also highlight in another text example which reads, i love my lovely honey bunny very muchly shes the bestest The double superlative bestest and the overgeneralization of the adverb marker signals the use of phonetic spelling and prosody to resemble speech sounds (in this case, the sender shows her extreme fondness of her doll and write as if she is speaking in an enthusiastic tone). Crystal also highlighted that like conversations, email users often engage in turn-taking with the use of adjacency pairs. For example, David asked Colin in an email, Is 7pm ok for u? and Colin replied, fine without much elaboration. Email utterances display much of the urgency and energetic force which is characteristic of face-to-face conversation (Aitchison &amp; Lewis, 2001). Crystal noted that compare to traditional letter writing, email users are much more enthusiastic in their communication (Crystal, 2001), and they often ask question in an intense manner that resembles a direct face-to-face verbal communication. Rather than writing out several sentences to convey his or her feeling (in the case of traditional letter writing), the use of repeated punctuation helps an user to convey his or her emotions to the other party in the quickest possible way, and this is similar to a direct face-to-face verbal communication in the sense that the other party is able to see or feel his or her emotions instantaneously. Linguist Naomi Baron noted that emailing is similar to face-to-face speech, as the response time is quick and the intended audience is specific. Unlike newspaper, a medium that is meant to disseminate to a wide audience and engages only in a one-way communication, email and text messaging is a two-way communication (a dialogue) with an intended audience. Just as when we are engaging in a direct face-to-face verbal </p></li><li><p>HOW EMAILING AND TEXTING BECAME A SPEECH </p><p>8 communication, we are usually speaking to a specific person or a group of people. Baron also noted that email conversations, like face-to-face conversations, are ephemeral and that senders do not edit their content. She also highlighted that unlike traditional writing that focuses on conveying information, emailing and texting are heavily social and phatic, as they are intended to convey attitudes, opinions and feelings (Baron, n.d.). She noted, in short, all these attributes contributed to the emailing and texting being a speech rather than verbal communication. She pointed out that there are two factors that contributed to such transformation. Following the Vietnam era, people began favoring an educational curriculum that focused on learner viewpoint rather than content-driven. Students are encouraged to begin their sentences with opinions such as I think Such reform has shifted formal rhetoric to informal writing, placing more value on what the students want to express than on the actual language. Some teachers even encouraged students to disregard the use of punctuation rules that are laid out in grammar books. In other words, Baron argued, writing is often taught as a f...</p></li></ul>