Dr. Donna Velliaris shares her content expertise on Netspeak

Netspeak: Wud u lke fri3s 2 go wit tht?

By Donna Velliaris on Nov 3, 2017
person texting
Language is essential to our social world and the tendency for groups to develop their own ‘lingo’ as an exercise in group identity has been observed throughout history. Today, Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) such as ‘Netspeak’ language register (or Blargon, Chatlingo, Chatspeak, Cyberslang, Cybertalk, Cyberterms, Digichat, Digitalk, E-Lingo, Geekspeak, Leetspeak, Lolspeak, Netlage, NetLingo, Netlish, Netwrite, Slanguage, Technospeak, Techspeak, Textese, Textspeak, and Weblish) are transformations—mostly cryptic mutations—of the English language in the hands of technology.

CMCs are used for computerized instant messages to abridge or modify the spelling of words and limit the number of keystrokes for typing; text taking longer to type than oral communication. Embedded with abbreviations, acronyms, dongers, emoji, emoticons, flamings, hashtags, henohenomoheji, iconji, initialisms, kaoani, kaomoji, and smileys, Netspeak ignores or violates the usual rules of capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure for the sake of typing ease and curtness.

Netspeak-type texting includes: an absence of apostrophes (can’t = cant, don’t = dont); exaggerated punctuation (what = please = pleassse, whaaaat?!); random capitalization to express deeper emotion (I AM ANGRY, GRRRR); and special symbols to intensify feelings (I **love** you). Further, there are countless acronyms/initialisms (afk = absent from keyboard, aysos = are you stupid or something?, brb = be right back, cid = consider it done, cio = check it out, cya = see you!, gtg = got to go, gtgpos = got to go parent over shoulder, hhok = ha ha only kiddin, lol = laughing out loud, mos = mom over shoulder, tafn = that’s all for now, ttyl = talk to you later, and wdys = what did you say?).

Text expressions can incorporate numbers into the mix (b4 = before, B4N = bye for now, BI5 = back in five minutes, CUl8r = see you later, g2g = got to go, GR8 = great, and ski11z = skills), and for even greater brevity, words can be reduced to two or three letters only (pls = please, thx or tx = thanks, we = whatever). Moreover, linguistic shortcuts are enabled by emoticons for expressive effect (:”> = blush, :D = grin, :( = sad, :-@ = screaming, :P = tongue out for disgust or silliness, :(( = very sad, :’( = weeping, and ;) = wink).
Texting…is ushering in new writing forms and rules, meaning that not only is it not a bad thing for grammar, it actually means we have a generation of people who are bilingual in a new way—able to seamlessly switch between speech, writing, and an entirely new mode of communication that has its own linguistic rules. The bad grammar in our texts is a sign that we’re more literate than ever…
—Tech is upending the ways we write, speak, and even think. Digital Trends [online], 5 December 2015

Am I Bilingual? Bidialectal? Both? Behold my ability to translate and convert this next paragraph into text lingo... Netspeak iz def peppered w straNg visual symbols. FYI, tha tendency Amng Gen Y-ers 2 use ths lingo—whether srsly or sarcastically n QSO w/ 1 NothA—cn b undRstD as an xpression of solidarity. 2dai 4eg, meanings cn b misconstrued fR EZer thru txt than thru verbal communic8n. Ppl put dis dwn 2 tha lack of f2f xpression & tone of vox, whch iz likely tha mAn rEsN, BT tha lack of depth in abbrevi8n cant escape blAm eithR. IRL, tha use of social media msgs has both +ve & -ve consequences 4 tha way we interact & rel8 2 Ech othR & upon tha evolution of lngwij. IOW, both participants n QSO must b intensely familiar w/ Netspeak & b ax tha current lingo in order 2 reap tha benefits of efficiency, othRwIz tha mEng wud tAk longer 2 decode than f xpressed n pln eng. FWIW, Netspeak takes less F4t & comes ax az a careless attitude dat iz nt appropri8 4 <3felt or pro writiN.

A random website—not worth citing now or ever—claimed that educators who recognize that Netspeak is ‘different’ and not ‘deficient’, can find ways to harness this language enroute to advancing students’ academic writing. That is, technology such as texting may aid learning and increase one’s literary capabilities. The minimal character restraints and conciseness of texting propels users to consider creativity in the use of phonetics for example. My response to that proposition is ‘WITWCT’ (what is the world coming to) as I ‘FOCROFL’ (fall off chair rolling on floor laughing), ‘IYKWIM’ (if you know what I mean?). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Evidently, knowing and using Netspeak will help reduce/eliminate the generation gap between my students—who are ‘texters’ rather than ‘talkers’—and me. I consider myself to be a kool teacher though and ‘tonight’ can be represented as 2night, 2nite, 2nt, 2nyt, tnight, tonit, tonite, or tonyt. Just to prove that I am indeed inventive, I would like to introduce my own version of ‘tonight’ as ‘to2nyt’—clearly the most creative interpretation yet. AFAIC (as far as I’m concerned), Netspeak may be convenient due to tiny keyboards and strict message length limits, but the language is an unaesthetic vulgarization of English. OK!! G2GPLO—JJWY!!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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Velliaris, D. M. & Breen, P. (2016). Native or novice?: An exploratory study of the access to and use of digital technologies among pathway students. In A. M. Pinheiro & D. Simões (Eds.), Handbook of research on engaging digital natives in higher education settings (Chapter 1, pp. 1-20). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Velliaris, D. M., Willis, C. R., & Breen, P. (2015). Personal and professional reflections: Pre-university pathway lecturers and social technologies. In V. Benson & S. Morgan (Eds.), Implications of social media use in personal and professional settings (Chapter 7, pp. 131-155). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

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