In this piece of work, I’m going to be deeply analysing a transcript of online conversation to help me define the similarities and differences between online and spoken language. I’m going to be exploring the history of online and spoken language, how it is used today and the opinions and attitudes it creates. Do you despise the younger generation talking in their own slang-based language full of confusing abbreviations and acronyms?
If yes, you’re not alone – many people are unaware of the true history behind online language, I researched the topic and found that Gerald Jones, a 47 year old man from Yorkshire even went as far to say that “it’s a teenage language made up by teenage people” but did you know that the “online slang” and popular acronyms like “LOL” that get such bad press from the media and older generations may actually date back to 1935? I am of course talking about Telex machines.
Telex Machines were similar to type writers and a useful way of contacting people around the world, they were cheaper than phone calls and quicker than post – both users had to have a machine in order for it to work (much like it is today with computers) However, the longer your message was, the more expensive it became – therefore, abbreviations and acronyms were used and slang was born! For example, some of the common acronyms were “ASAP (as soon as possible) “IMO” (in my opinion) and BTW (by the way), all of which we still use today! Likewise, there were also lots of abbreviations like “coz” (because) “dnt” (don’t) and “l8r” (later).
Online language is used today because it’s a quick and easy way of talking to people all around the world. It is mainly used by younger people who use instant messaging websites or chat rooms; which are designated areas where people with similar interests can come together to talk. The language used online is generally very informal, for example – On the transcript, “Tom” in answer to “Kams” statement says “Well get one probably be intence. ” In standard English, I can presume the sentence would’ve read “We’ll get one, it will probably be intense. ” There are several things “wrong” with Toms sentence.
I’ve put abbreviated commas by wrong, because sometimes language that is grammatically wrong in standard English, is perfectly acceptable in online language. Some of the grammatically wrong errors in “Toms” statement are that he’s missed out the apostrophe – perhaps a typo -but most likely it just didn’t occur to him that it was important to use one as the sociolect within the group all appear to use lots of slang, contractions and acronyms; what’s interesting though is that by missing out the apostrophe in “We’ll”, he’s changed the word to “Well” which gives the sentence a whole different meaning.
Furthermore, we can see that Deletion has occurred; “Tom” has missed out the words “it” and “will”, and has also missed a comma after the word “one” – which, to me personally makes his statement quite confusing to understand as I don’t use online language very often, but “Toms” peers or “online friends” can understand it fine because they are used to speaking in such a way.
There is also slight Deixis, “Tom” is referring to getting a hot summer this year, but if it was taken out of context or if somebody new joined the online chat, (notice, I did not say conversation – I will go into this in more detail later) they would be quite hard pushed to figure out exactly what “Tom” was talking about. On the other hand, unlike online language, spoken language is used today by all generations on a day to day basis.
Saying goodbye to your mum on your way to school, talking to your neighbours about last night’s episode of X-Factor, delivering some bad news to a loved one – no matter what you’re talking about, it’s still spoken language. One of the advantages of face to face conversation is the ability to incorporate hand gestures into your speech to entice your audience and capture their attention – a speaker has significantly more control over what the listener will hear than the writer has over what the reader will read.
For these techniques to be effective, however, the speaker needs to make sure that he or she has the audience’s attention–audiences do not have the luxury of re-reading the words spoken. The speaker, therefore, must become a reader of the audience. Personally, I believe that the most significant difference between online language and spoken language is the way we can and can’t pick up an accent, you can however pick up a different language.
In the transcript,, one of the online participants, “Sam_90” starts speaking German in line 25 – I can only assume that he speaks both English and German because his other three comments are all written in English. It is interesting how the other online “speakers” react to “Sam_90’s” German comment, instead of putting in any effort, and asking “Sam_90” what he just said, or even Google translating it, they all seem to ignore the comment, and in line 26, “sam” replies with a confused “eh”.
I presume “Sam_90” realised his German comments wouldn’t be received well, as his next comment is back in English again. Accents however are much harder to pick up on than languages, if one of the other speakers in the online conversation had a strong Irish or Welsh accent, we would have no way of knowing. This could be seen as a positive thing as it could help reduce discrimination, e. g “oh – I don’t like her because she’s Welsh.
” But it could also be seen as negative because it takes away one of the most pleasurable experiences of listening to people speak; we all have our own individual idiolect and that’s what makes us unique – but there is only one way to type (excluding Americanisms) so it’s virtually impossible to work out if somebody has an accent. The Transcript shows us many similarities between online language and spontaneous speech. In Line 15, “Sam_90” says “hows every 1 2day? ” This is an example of phatic conversation, which is used frequently, in spoken and online language alike.
Another interesting similarity is the amount of contractions used. Contractions are very common in both online and spoken language, they are used throughout in the transcript, ranging from “theres” in line 4, “cant” in line 8 and we’ll” in line 27. Another interesting similarity is that speaking face to face, and “speaking” online is referred to as having a conversation and talking to one another. Whereas in reality, you can speak to somebody face to face, but you can only type to somebody online. You can have a conversation with somebody face to face, but you can only have a dialogue online.
I’ve already mentioned a few advantages of online conversation (quick, easy, can talk to people all over the world) but one of the main disadvantages is that it can potentially be quite unsafe. A thirty year old man could very easily pretend to be a teenage girl and lie about who he really is – whereas with a face to face spoken conversation, it is much harder to lie about your identity, which means that an advantage of spoken conversation is that it’s safer. We can see from the transcript that the people involved don’t know each other, as in line 36, “kam” says “anyone living in a warmer country?.
” It is potentially very dangerous talking to strangers, but it could also be seen as a positive thing, talking to people all over the world and making new friends. On the other hand, a disadvantage of spoken language is that you’re facial expressions can give away information that you don’t want people to know, for example, if you’re trying to convince somebody that you’re not embarrassed and your face blushes red then it’s very hard to get them to believe you, this wouldn’t happen with online conversation. The opinions and attitudes that online and spoken language create are very interesting.
If you showed the example transcript to a group of older generation upper class people; it is fair to assume that they would think these people weren’t very intelligent because of their lack of standard English, whereas the reality might be that they are in fact incredibly clever but just like using abbreviations and contractions online because it saves time. Incidentally people’s attitudes to spoken language tend to vary; just from the way an individual speaks we can often tell what kind of person they are, or would like to be. In conclusion, there are many differences and similarities between spoken and online language.
They both have their advantages and disadvantages but in my opinion they are both as useful and fascinating as each other. Technology has developed a lot over the years and so has our use of language. Of course, we still use lots of words from our previous generations, but new words are being invented all the time. I do however think that online language has a bad reputation for influencing the younger generations use of standard English and spelling that in my personal opinion is unnecessary. I have tried to deeply analyse the transcript to help me get my points across and I hope I have done so effectively.