2B or not 2B
By Rajeswari Vikiraman and Rachel Kwek
There used to be a time, in the quaint era of letter writing, when the acronym LOL referred to ‘lots of love’ or ‘lots of luck’. Then came the era when writing via electronic communications became ubiquitous and those phrases were swiftly dethroned. As history would have it, LOL evolved into ‘laugh out loud’.
Texting, instant messaging and writing on social media platforms, all of which are mostly done using smartphones these days, have encouraged people to convey messages as succinctly as one possibly could, and led to the development of a new mobile language. Rules that the English language abided by were abandoned in this realm. Efforts were put into modifying the language instead and in the process, new norms were created.
There are a variety of conventions coming into play in this modified language sometimes referred to as textism. Abbreviations, acronyms, lack of capitalisations, excessive capitalisations, absence of punctuations and substitution of letters with numerals are some of the many elements unique to this modified language commonly used across messaging and social media platforms. Even news sites have jumped on the bandwagon, using acronyms and hashtags in their social media postings.
Despite the prevalence of textism, response to it has been polarising. Those passionate about the English language are perturbed by the popularity and have denounced its prevalent use, but avid texters still stand their ground.
Not forgetting that acronyms like LOL, OMG, FYI and questionable words like ‘twerk’, ‘derp’, ‘selfie’ have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, the question arises: Should textism be considered English, or is this the precursor for the impending doom of the language?
Check out the rest of this article and read about the evolution and impact of textism in our upcoming issue of Asian Geographic No.136 Issue 4/2019 coming to bookstores (and your devices!) this month.