THE DIRTY LITTLE SHEILA

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The Shift and Depreciation of the English Language Due to Internet

Kids now a days have more access to many things, and by access I mean on the computer, which is leading to a decrease in the ability of coherent speaking of the english language. These are not only access to things such as chat rooms, porn, games, and blogs (albeit there is more out there, but this sums up the jist of what I and many other kids out there do on a lazy day basis). I don’t mean to make it sound that every kid watches porn, plays games or chats, I’m just saying these are the many, too easily accessible things that are diminishing our human contact, leading to a depreciation of the english language. I have noticed just within a span of a few years, from my brother’s grade, only two years older than me, to my generation, to two or three years under me. Kids have begun to shift and speak a completely different language. For example, I was at a friend’s work christmas party, and there was this kid who was 16, and in the conversation he said “want beef?” This isn’t really an example of a depreciation of the language; it’s actually quite clever, taken from the Pigin language for “got a problem/want to fight?” But it’s things like this that make the language shift. I’ll come back to this “shift.” Other times I hear kids using words they learned on the computer, such as “leet” which in computer language is 1337, meaning elite. Other variations of computer language used in daily life are LOL, 143. These mean laughing out loud and I love you, these examples come from the 1337 or leet computer language. This leet language, for a bit of background, was formed in the ‘underground’ of the online computer gaming world. Codes were formed, using alpha-numerical and other characters to form sentences, which contain all sorts of spelling and grammatical errors; it nonetheless formed itself into a language. Besides computers and they’re easily and readily available ways to access things instantaneously across the globe, are its ways to exploit yourself just as instantly across the globe. I’m not saying this in a bad way, it’s just an integral part of the shift in language. With these online blog and chat features and programs such as MySpace, Facebook, and Nexopia, to name a few popular ones, kids are able to open the door into their own personal life, space, and home. They’re able to show friends, family, music, habits, hobbies, photos (sometimes quite promiscuous) to everyone and anyone willing to be their “friend” over the net. This then leads to other kids (sometimes not kids at all, “Someone who may claim to be a 14 year old girl, may in fact be a 40 year old man” quoted from the Nexopia website) posting pictures and messages of random things. This also ties in with fashion, music, and current trends (all tie in with emo, punk, surfer, skater, and retro, most of the trends of today) of which I’ll be very succinct when I say it reflects some european ways. There’s also the more accepting attitude toward homosexuality (personally I don’t care who is and isn’t gay). This leads people (straight or otherwise) to be more free of what they say. Men and women using more words such as cute, and “I love you” even to mean just a friendship. However it also leads to weirdly written sentences (sometimes not even sentences at all) with strangely inserted characters in the middle of it to form some type word or phrase that sometimes makes no sense to me, but lots of sense to the receiver. To be sure that it wasn’t an inside joke with a couple or few people who were friends, I’ve spent many an hours looking at nexopia, myspace and other pages of random people who all have similar writings. Examples that stuck out the most are ‘&&,’ the use of the ampersand twice. Also the use of && along with ‘amp;it,’ no spelling mistake there, the semi colon was put there by the people typing it. Supposedly this means the next word is continued from the last word or sentence into the next. There’s also the use of emoticons. However some people, instead of using the actual face, or making a look-alike face :-), they do :rollseyes:, which usually in HTML format, forms a small face rolling its eyes, but they do it to signify the face. These types of things all shift language to becoming lazier. Instead of saying how it made you feel, kids just put “I went to Mike’s party and it was :thumbsdown:” This is a simple, stupid example I made up while writing this, but it gets the point across. Instead of saying “I went to MIke’s party, it was pretty boring, no one showed up, so I left early,” they just put the thumbsdown sign in hopes that the other person they are talking to will understand. Many times I have seen someone say, instead of “I love you” or even 143, the code language, they write I ❤ you, which is nice, and means "I heart you," (the ❤ is supposed to be a heart). Then that slowly shifted to "I hearts you" instead of people putting "I love you lots," or in the worst case "I ❤ x2 you" (meaning I heart you times two), we get a mutation into something like "I hearted you much." The language just gets very strange. These examples show up in daily speech, I've heard some of the people I know that are between the ages of 14-20 speaking like this (not to say there's not older people talking and writing like this, it's just these people are what I've experienced and how I gained this 'knowledge'). My knowledge is based predominantly on just plain spending time on the computer, using my own accounts of facebook, nexopia, myspace, hi5, friendster, tagworld, all those similar things, and not to forget MSN and online computer games. The knowledge of these things just seeped into my conscious and I began to think about it, along with doing my own research from sites such as wikipedia, urbandictionary.com (that may sound like an uncredible source to do research from, but alot of the facts and postings on there are true, you just have to look through the pile of funny dirt thats on top). I say knowledge meaning just things I think about and the ideas and theories I form in my mind, along with putting it together like a puzzle with the informal research I've done, and just by talking to others on the subject. One person I talked to said that the english language will be completely screwed up and changed in the next years to come. As I thought about that, it made some sense in my mind. I see things just from the change from about 5 years ago, the language is completely different. Maybe it will be screwed up and maybe it won't. Who knows.

If we look at the times through the ages, there was different speaking, almost every 10-20 years. Lets start with the 1930's-1950's, it seems that people who endured the depression and war were the fathers (figuratively) of a more mature language. But they were also the fathers (literally) of a completely different language ten years later: their kids. These kids who were born between 1940-1950's, grew up in the 1960's, in their teen years, and looking at the language differences and uses from the 50's to the 60's, only ten years, there was a big leap. People seemed to speak more conservatively and formal in the 50's. In the span to the 60's, something evolved to the hippie language. It was a neat and wondrous language that probably many thought was very strange and made no sense. Going on to the 1970's, it seems the language evolved to the, what we refer to today as, as the retro language, or disco era language. That was also a cool strange way of speaking. That then evolved in the 1980's with the punk and grunge revolution and into the 1990's where it was a homogenized and coagulated form of what seems like 60's, 70's, 80's, all vying for a place. The 2000's are now evolving into something mixed up with all the past years languages. I've heard things dating back hundreds of years, even thousands; some things of ye olde english, some things of the retro/disco eras. This all evolves together and mutates into something weird, and it shifts the language.

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