521-Class 27

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<sidebar>Psych521</sidebar>

Language in the age of the internet[edit]

Watch this video: David Crystal on Texting - somewhat outdated, but useful.

Read this brief article Txtng Rules.

Watch John McWhorter's TED talk

Read New York Magazine article on the evolution of emoji


Study questions


David Crystal Video

  • What is Crystal’s “theory”?
  • Why might some people think that texting has negative outcomes on literacy skills?
  • What evidence does Crystal cite against the hypothesis that texting negatively impacts literacy?
  • If texting isn’t really writing (as argued by McWhorter), how could it improve literacy?


TED Talk (McWhorter) and Txting Rules brief article

  • What does McWhorter mean when he says that texting “is fingered speech”?
  • What are some examples of how texting conventions have changed with time? What factors do you think drive these changes?
  • How does McWhorter respond to claims that texting is detrimental to the communication skills of young people?
  • What observations are made about how young people text in the article Txting Rules (e.g., Do the discusesd texting conventions support/not support McWhorter’s claim that texting is “fingered speech”?


Evolution of Emoji (Sternbergh)

  • At one point the author writes “emoji are a secret code language made up of symbols that everyone already intuitively understands.” How does this statement square with examples of people using the same emoji in very different ways?
  • Can you “read” emoji in the same way that you can read written language? Why/why not?
  • How are emoji similar to metaphors? How are they different? (Think about the example of the emoji shrimp in the article).


Take home points

Why might some people think that texting has negative outcomes on literacy skills? People judge other people on language use because language use is a cue to other things: education, SES, etc. Changes are often seen as degradations, when in fact they just reflect neutral fads or accommodations to new communication technologies.

What is this “texting as fingered speech” thing? Like writing, texting/IMs are written, but unlike other writing, they happen in real-time. This makes them importantly similar to speech.

Emoticons and Emoji emerge to fill some gaps that real-time written communication creates.

What factors might drive texting conventions and their change over time? What’s easy to produce (no emoji without emoji keyboards!)

Emoji/emoticons as emblems: Like other aspects of language, texting has a social component. How you text offers clues abotu what kind of person you are.

Some emoji are readily understandable (smilie, laugh, pout). Others are used more as visual metaphors and require learning (like other aspects of language).