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Technology May Encourage Shortening of Words but Meanings Remain Intact

Technology May Encourage Shortening of Words but Meanings Remain Intact
on August, 12 2013

For some reason mobile technology encourages people who use it to shorten the words. There are claims that technology is also shortening the attention span of humans who keep using them and so they tend to cut or shorten everything. Perhaps the technology itself has nothing to do with the prevalent practice of abbreviating as well as the extensive use of acronyms in text messaging and related communications. Nevertheless, many people using modern technological innovations tend to shorten the words and the practice of abbreviation has become rather extreme. The use of acronyms has reached equal notoriety.

Beware of Language Degradation

This particular language craze may be considered fun, hip, and trendy by those who abide by it, but it’s a genuine cause of worry for others. Some people say that this practice is a barrier to understanding. On the other hand, there are those who say it bridges understanding. Whether it fosters understanding or not depends on what generation you’re from, mostly. It’s all subjective, really. But there are people who argue (objectively) that despite the prevalent shortening of words, the meaning remains intact.

The meaning’s all there

When teenagers and young adults send messages to each other, older people (and some young adults) often don’t understand and attribute it to the practice of shortening causing meaning to get lost. A linguistics professor from the University of Toronto begs to disagree. This professor saw firsthand, from observing her teenage children interact with friends that this is not the case. She made an arrangement with her children so that they would allow her to study their conversation logs. They of course refused, and so she looked for other sources. She was joined by a colleague in studying text logs of teenage girls and came up with a study that was published with the title, “Linguistic Ruin? LOL! Instant Messaging and Teen Language.”

Form vs. Function

The findings of the study might surprise those who scoff at the acronyms and shortened words that characterize communications today. The study concluded that the messages exchanged were still firmly rooted in the language (in this case, English) and did not lead to language breakdown at all. According to the research, the spelling may vary but the “language, structure and grammar are the same.” The main difference from regular, non-abbreviated communications is in “the way they use linguistic forms.” Essentially, they are saying that the form differs but the function is the same. The intended meaning still gets through.

In a separate study with the same primary investigator, the written works of teenage students in a class were used. A review of their written requirements showed no misspellings, no abbreviations and acronyms, and all documents exhibited proper grammar.

The point that the researchers wanted to make was this: It is not fair to say the language is getting worse with the new generation. Language is merely changing form as it always had. Nevertheless, this is just one study and there’s research saying otherwise. But it’s good to know that language retains its adaptability as time moves forward into the future.

Day Translations Team

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