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> Text Speak And Swearing
Mata
post Jul 27 2004, 10:55 AM
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I know this is a bit of a strange combination of topics but I think that they are related. I was responding to an email and I figured that this might make a good topic to have on the forums. I've culled most of this from the email so the style is a little stunted, but it gets the point across (although it is also ironic considering what I'm writing about).

As I'm sure most of you are aware, I've always encouraged people on these forums to write in correct English, especially those who begin writing in text speak. I know it's hard at first for some people, but it gets easier with practice. Text speak can be a really hard habit to break but I think it's worth learning to write in correct English so that you can communicate more effectively with people in the future. It's looking increasingly to be the case that being able to convey meaning concisely in the typed word is going to be one of the most important skills for people to have. Many people using text speak to write messages are still students and I think it's especially important for them to learn to write corectly, how can it not improve grades in school when in your free time you become more in control of the language you use?

The language we use defines us to a massive degree. If we choose to reduce everything to its most basic forms then while we type shorter sentences we also limit ourselves. In George Orwell's book '1984' the controlling elite are continually diminshing the numbers of words in the English language so that one day no-one will be able to think anything against the ruling state because they will not have the words to do it. Of course, we're not in the situation at the moment, but the point is fair, by removing words and choosing the simplest route to communicate you restrict yourself to only ideas that you can express easily. I also believe that it means people begin to lose depth in their emotional spectrum because they do not have the range of terms with which to express themselves clearly.

This is a reason that I very rarely swear and do not allow swearing on this site. People use swearing to replace other words, those words have a far greater degree of subtlety and meaning in them than the swearword, so by doing this they reduce the amount that they communicate when they speak or write. This is why people that swear often seem more dull and less intelligent than other people. I'm convinced that intelligence is a false value, I fully believe that everyone is capable of achieving anything, but they have to be able to express themself clearly or they will never be able to expand themself to the degree where anything is possible for them. When all people do is swear all day they narrow the range of expressions that they have and so limit their own thinking.

I think there are times when swearing is justified, because swearwords do have very definite and emotive meanings of their own, but if people are continually using them in different contexts then it dilutes their meaning should they ever have a need for their true purpose. The language we use is not only a way of expressing ourselves, but we also define ourselves through it; you cannot think about something that you have no words for, n if you thnk lk dis thn wot do you thnk?


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Mutilation
post Jul 27 2004, 11:04 AM
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A good point. But sometimes swearing can't really be replaced. There's a whole different spectrum of insults, and swearing is right near the top. You could call someone a creatin but that would just be lightly viewed as someone being an idiot or fool. But swearing to convey emotions I agree on.
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Forever Unknown
post Jul 27 2004, 11:43 AM
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On here I'm more than happy to curb my language, but as you know, in reality I swear like a sailor.

I'm actually a big fan of swearing. It's something I enjoy - it's satisfying. I've never really felt it's narrowed my vocabulary at all - I'm well-read, I always write in correct English (aside from the occasional type and grammar mistakes here and there. I downright refuse to write in text speech because I find it slows me down when others use it - I don't even use smilies because I feel I'm quite capable of expressing a mood through my writing). I'm even (shock! Horror!) articulate in certain situations. I don't feel that my use of swear words effects that, as long as I keep my swearing social, which I do.

I would say that swearing defines my speech better - I'll use it to emphasise whatever it is I'm saying, albeit passionate, funny, angry et al. I find it's got such a range, and that's what I enjoy about it. I think a lot of people see swearing as a negative thing, and while I understand that it can be seen as very offensive, I don't think it's all bad when it's so versatile. And sometimes just fun. But then, I take the... um... (see? I need to swear there! Saying 'mickey' just sounds like I'm 11) urine a lot.

But. Yes. I think it just comes naturally to me now - in social situations I use it as comfortably as I'd say any other word. I think it was the way I was bought up, with my mother also being very liberal with her language (in fact, I got her into the habit of using the C- word - the most offensive of all words. She now uses it more than I do). I'm the result of bad parenting!

I shall remember to curb my language next time I see you from now on, incase you wash my mouth out with soap and water.


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Mata
post Jul 27 2004, 11:57 AM
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I can't say I'd really noticed you swearing lots to be honest, I'll check that out next time we meet up!

Smilies are a shorthand, and I think that they are a necessary evil. It is often very difficult to tell if a person is joking on the web, and so something that might sound really offensive and cause all kinds of problems can be put into the correct tone very quickly. for example:

You could have made an effort for your photo!

sound rather rude, but

You could have made an effort for your photo! wink.gif

gives the idea that the person really thinks that you look great. I think that for the moment they are a very necessary part of adapting our language to the needs of an instant technological written communication system. They are also good for stopping arguments on here so I want people to continue to use them!

Swearing when used for emphasis isn't too bad, because at least that way it is working to increase the meaning of a sentence, it's when it seems that people cannot speak five words without swearing that it degrades their meaning. When swearwords replace too many words then everything reaches a similar level of emphasis.

If a person has had a f***ing great night, a f***ing awful morning, and needs a f***ing cup of tea, then either they are living a life of great extremes or they are lacking subtlety in their language to describe their experiences more clearly.


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gothictheysay
post Jul 27 2004, 11:58 AM
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Yay! I can rant about text speak!

The thing that annoys me at text speak is how it values the person using it so highly. Abbreviations like "brb" and "lol" are fine for me, but there is a defining point to where you should stop. When I instant message I don't always capitalize. I see this as more acceptable and minor, since the meaning is still illustrated clearly. Okay, if someone is just saying "u r" instead of "you are", I'll just cringe and let it pass...but if it's unintelligible, what's the point? It may save you time (but I type correctly and at an average of say 50-65 WPM, so it's hard to see how text speak saves TIME) but if the other person can't understand you, you've just defeated the whole purpose. Also, if you get too used to using text speak, you'll have a bit of trouble writing business emails! Text speak and swearing can both easily dilute your sense of language, and with some people (especially those young and still in schooling) shouldn't take the chance. Saying "u" instead of "you" is not going to put emphasis on good spelling, anyways...

As for swearing, I look at myself and generally go "Well, I sort of swear a lot." However, many people say I don't swear very much at all! (Just ask ARC) Then iIrealize I swear mostly to myself...heh...and it doesn't rub off on my speech to others because I deal with a lot of people who find swearing offensive (i.e., my best friend). Swearing is definitely a very careful language; I corrected my sister once when she swore and I thought she was implying the wrong thing laugh.gif Everyone should be careful with how they swear and be careful of other people's feelings about it. However, that doesn't mean I'm all for swear-free speech - they're needed sometimes to convey emotions! Little words that pack so much power! Unfortunately that can get people addicted to them. I've seen many cases where swearing a lot dilutes the person's sense of language, and other cases with people who swear a lot where it's almost like a style. (Those people are quite rare though...I don't think it's something you can attempt to do wink.gif)

Huh...look at the way kids are growing up t'day...disliking text speak more than swearing tongue.gif (I have skipped a couple posts because of text speak, so if you want almighty me to read your posts, shape up...hehe.)

/end long-winded rant (s)


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Jonman
post Jul 27 2004, 12:02 PM
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But to look at it from another angle, txtspk doesn't limit the way you express yourself at all, it merely reduces the inherent redundancy of the English language.

How does

how r u?

convey any less information than it's longhand version...

how are you?

??

Answer? It doesn't. Both written and spoken language are (from an information theory standpoint) horrifically inefficient forms of communication. Txtspk is simply a way of conveying the same information using less characters - try this on size...

txtspk's a dffrnt prtocol tht rmves xtraneus karaktrs frm sentnces.

Really, what's the difference between me writing that in txtspk or french? Either is simply a different way of conveying the same information. Either is capable of mininterpration or ambiguity. Either will be more difficult to interpret for someone not 100% used to reading it. Either can be used to represent the same concepts and ultimately, the same words.

As for swearing, I find it akin to my use of html tags on this forum. I use them to emphasise various bits of what I'm saying. In the case of the forum, it's a poor substitute for vocal emphasis that I'd put on words if I was speaking them. However, it's simply another communication tool to increase the information imparted in a spoken exchange. Well-used swearing actually increases the potential bandwidth of the vocal medium.

Swearing can also be used to paint a particularly potent metaphor. When I wake up the night after far too many beers, and declare that "I feel as if the beer gorilla has take a **** in my mouth", you're left in no doubt whatsoever that there's a voilently unpleasant taste in my mouth.

To use Mata's own argument against him, in 1984, words are removed from the language to restrict the thinking of the people. By not swearing, you're self-imposing the same constraint upon yourself.


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Jonman
post Jul 27 2004, 12:11 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Jul 27 2004, 05:57 AM)
If a person has had a f***ing great night, a f***ing awful morning, and needs a f***ing cup of tea, then either they are living a life of great extremes or they are lacking subtlety in their language to describe their experiences more clearly.

As opposed to a person having a very good night, a very awful morning, and very much needs a cup of tea.

Your argument isn't directed at swearing, but at unimaginative use of language in general.


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Greeneyes
post Jul 27 2004, 12:44 PM
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I think text/im speak is ok provided it's read as what it's meant to represent. For instance, if i see 'brb' i read it as 'be right back' without thinking. On the otherhand, if i see 'lol', i read it as 'lol' and it's as if the person saying it has actually just said 'lol' to me. I don't know about anyone else, but when i'm on instant messengers, when i read a message, i imagine the person actually saying it to me. For this reason, i tend to type how i would speak. I have one friend, who talks a lot on ims, and when i talk to him, so much abbreviation is used, it actually feels as if i'm not talking to him, in a way. It's really wierd. Things like 'rofl' and 'lmao' are strange because people say them when they just smile. 'lol' has become a generic reply, and is now meaningless. I don't mind other people using them, but i don't use them myself. And as for OMGROTFLMFAO, well, it goes without saying doesn't it?
As for swearing, I do do that quite a lot, depending on the company i'm in. Often i use swearwords as exclamations, which i think is ok, as they are there to provide extra emphasis, and i really don't feel like going "gosh, that nail in my foot is getting a tad painful" when i can just say "s*** that hurts". Something that does irk me is when people refer to everything as 's***'. As in, "yeah, that's good s***", or something similar. It makes sense in some occasions, but some people go over the top.


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Forever Unknown
post Jul 27 2004, 01:29 PM
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QUOTE
I can't say I'd really noticed you swearing lots to be honest, I'll check that out next time we meet up!


I think I tone it down when I'm around you because you're such a well-mannered young man. Even more so now because I'll know you're watching for it!

While I get your point about smilies, I remain unconvinced personally. I can find that a little verbal softener here, a 'hehe' there and a couple of light hearted remarks work just as well as a ' biggrin.gif '. They make take a little longer, but it means you're really thinking about what you're saying.

It's like, this one: rolleyes.gif - I find that a little mean, like someone thinks you're a complete idiot. That's probably not often the case, but still...

ph34r.gif - and what the Hell is that?

It's all very baffling to me. In fact, this post is the first time *ever* that I've used the things.

And much like your opinion on swearing, I find that the overuse of them waters down the message, and suggests perhaps a lack of varied vocabulary. So ner.


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Pab
post Jul 27 2004, 01:30 PM
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QUOTE (Jonman @ Jul 27 2004, 02:02 PM)
txtspk's a dffrnt prtocol tht rmves xtraneus karaktrs frm sentnces.

Really, what's the difference between me writing that in txtspk or french? Either is simply a different way of conveying the same information. Either is capable of mininterpration or ambiguity. Either will be more difficult to interpret for someone not 100% used to reading it. Either can be used to represent the same concepts and ultimately, the same words.

Well, I agree with the 'what's the difference between using textspeak or French?' question, because indeed the result is similar. Both ask the reader to go out and learn textspeak or French. If I were to post on here in French all I'd get would be some bemused stares and some pie and duct-tape. Surely one of the basic premises behind this form of communication is to use a well-known common ground so that we all 'speak the same language'?


As for swearing, I swear. I swear plenty. I use it mostly to convey emotional extremes such as indignation or that stuttering wordlessness that comes from unpleasant surprise, or to leave no doubt as to the particular angle I'm aiming at with subject ie: "could you ask your f***ing dog to stop urinating on my leg"

I agree that there is an ever-popular form of swearing which is basically used to show that there is a new word in a sentence ie: "f***ing let's f***ing go down't't' f***ing pub and grab a f***ing bevvie, ya b***ard" and this is sad. As it happens, the people I know who communicate like that are very VERY unlikely to come in here and learn anything from Mata's thoughts.

I do believe that there are times and places for swearing, and I agree that they are few and far between. However, it is a sophisticated theme. It takes a particular feel for a language and a definite elasticity of the mind to swear effectively. Have you guys heard people whose mother tongue isn't English try to swear in our language? Hours of entertainment .... My wife is Danish, and speaks a better English than half the people on here, as she went to an English school, but boy oh boy she can really mess up the swearing sometimes ... If I come across some good examples, I'll post a thread on the topic. I'ts wild ...


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Jonman
post Jul 27 2004, 01:34 PM
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QUOTE (Pab @ Jul 27 2004, 07:30 AM)
Have you guys heard people whose mother tongue isn't English try to swear in our language? Hours of entertainment ....

Oh, I am so with you on this - there's a German guy on another forum I frequent, and his swearing is legendary! It's unfortunately unrepeatable on this forum, but it's epic. I'm talking constant streams of swearwords, all combined in the freshest, most unique ways. Genius.


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post Jul 27 2004, 02:03 PM
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I really dislike text speak. I just can't read it at all and find it completely unnecessary. Like Gothictheysay, if I come across a post that is written in text speech I completely bypass it. This is probably because I don't text people very often and when I do, I don't use text speech. Admittadly, it takes me a while to write the message but I have absolute faith in this nifty little device they call 'The Telephone'. See, it's a novel idea - you pick up the handset, type a number and Bobs your uncle - you can ACTUALLY speak to the person you want to communicate with. What will they think of next! rolleyes.gif

As to swearing - coming from the same litter as Forever Unknown, I also swear like a trooper. However, the everyday swear words I use tend to be on the lower end of the scale. I do believe that some swear words are far more acceptable than others. It all really depends on the company I'm in. Obviously when with people I've known for many years I don't curb my langauge at all. It's only with new people, Client, Customers, parents and my nan and grandad that I start to behave.

This will all change in the next few months, as Kai is starting to pick up on words I say often and I really would prefer that his first word wasn't 'bugger'. biggrin.gif


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gothictheysay
post Jul 27 2004, 02:10 PM
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QUOTE
Oh, I am so with you on this - there's a German guy on another forum I frequent, and his swearing is legendary! It's unfortunately unrepeatable on this forum, but it's epic. I'm talking constant streams of swearwords, all combined in the freshest, most unique ways. Genius.


That's what I meant when I said eople who swear in their own style, except not maybe *constantly* biggrin.gif


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post Jul 27 2004, 02:13 PM
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I dislike text speak the same reason I dislike French! I can't read either of 'em! laugh.gif

Smilies are a necessary evil. We need to be able to convey emotion and, like Mata says, emails and posts are really hard to do that. Often I've taken offense to a comment only to realise when re-reading it that it wasn't meant that way.

Ah well, "younguns" these days and all that! biggrin.gif

I wasn't taught grammar skills very effectively at school or perhaps I was but I just didn't listen? laugh.gif I wish I had been. My life today would be much easier (for example with job applications) if I could speak all posh and proper like wink.gif


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Mata
post Jul 27 2004, 02:21 PM
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QUOTE (Jonman @ Jul 27 2004, 01:02 PM)
But to look at it from another angle, txtspk doesn't limit the way you express yourself at all, it merely reduces the inherent redundancy of the English language.

How does

how r u?

convey any less information than it's longhand version...

how are you?

??

[snip]

txtspk's a dffrnt prtocol tht rmves xtraneus karaktrs frm sentnces.

[snip]

To use Mata's own argument against him, in 1984, words are removed from the language to restrict the thinking of the people. By not swearing, you're self-imposing the same constraint upon yourself.

I think the inherent redundancy of English is what makes it an interesting language. In some ways I think you've hit the nail on the head with this:

QUOTE
Your argument isn't directed at swearing, but at unimaginative use of language in general.


English has always been a very poetic language, full of rhythm, plays on words, and ripe with metaphorical and cultural depth. While it's true that U cn ndrstnd dis t rytm o t wrds n t lnguge is lst.

There is still a core of information there, but the sensation and feeling of the words is somehow lost. Even in those few words there is reference to the origin of the English language in Old English, itself an inheritance from the Germanic tribes (understandan). 'Rhythm' is thought to come either from the French word rhythme or via Latin from the Greek word rhuthmos, which is related to the word rhein, meaning 'to flow'. There is a pretty concise history of the British in just those two words. Swearing also shows a lot of our history, which is partially why they are such great things to use for emphasis, and why they shouldn’t be watered down by continual use.

Text speak does convey meaning (albeit at half the speed of a sentence in correct English for someone not used to reading it) but it is meaning that is progressively isolating the language from the depth of imagery that has flowed through into it for millennia.

I know I'm over-reacting, but it's more fun to make a point this way. The main reason I originally mentioned to the person I was emailing was for the point that Gothictheysay raises: you need good English skills to be taken seriously. I received an email in text speak a few days ago asking about the use of debit cards in my shop. I think I understood what the person was talking about, but it was hard to be sure given that most of the words were less than three letters in length. The girl I was emailing to replied to me in a well written email, but after a few paragraphs revealed that it had so far taken her an hour to type. When text speak is such a habit that means that you will be unable to write fluently in correct English when you need to then I consider that a problem. The creative response to the language that I have is just another element on top of this more important issue.

Who knows, maybe bank managers will be writing in text speak to their clients in thirty years' time. The English language has never been a static thing, and it evolves all the time, picking up words, dropping them after a few years, finding others.

As for the swearing thing, yes, it is unimaginative use of language that troubles me, but that is really just another way of saying that it is restricting your vocabulary and capability for expression. I would complain if the only word of emphasis anyone ever used was ‘very’ again because there is not range in it. I would say that if you don't ever swear then yes you do lose words from the language, but you use a whole range more to replace them. It's a case of extremes. I swear, but not very often, I've sworn on these forums before, sometimes swearing really is the best way to express precisely what you mean, but when there is a better way of doing it then people should use that instead.

As many people have said, swearing is very useful for emphasis, my issue with it comes when it is either unnecessary or being used to such extremes that it replaces chunks of language. This replacement can't help but limit your range of expression, when one word stands in the place of a whole range of others.

The limitations of language trouble me. I had great difficulty trying to find something that I could reduce 'rhythm' to for the text speak example, so maybe I would otherwise have replaced it with 'flow'. People would get the same message, but the meaning would be more general, and not exactly what I was trying to say. If you're not being exact with your language then surely that is another form of redundancy in the process of communication? If you save typed letters but lose out on coherent and accurate translation of your ideas then have you really saved anything?

Scarily, it's only now, about five years into my PhD, that I'm really learning to punctuate correctly. It's really not easy, but it's also got enough flexibility in the system that you only need to have things roughly right for a little punctuation to help you get your point across.


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The Bobster
post Jul 27 2004, 02:34 PM
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I agree wholeheartedly with mata's comments in the OP and with some made earlier today on another thread that referred to slurs. When trying to make a particular argument or present a point of view, the high road of remaining on the level of ideas rather than personalities is not only more ethical but it's also more convincing, especially on the off-chance there's someone reading who has a brain cell or two. Those are often the people I most want to convince anyway - a working intellect is usually one that is open to new ideas and tends to be flexible more often than rigid and calcified.

The best way to insult someone, if you really need to, if to display that their thought-patterns are full of internal contradictions or else to show that their worldview reeks of moral bankruptcy. Swearing contributes nothing to this, and usually it reflects poorly on the speaker.

I post regularly on a forum devoted to teachers here in Korea, a very busy site with possibly 50 or more people in regular conversation with each other every day, and possibly the same number who drop by only accasionally - I helped moderate that board for a while also and the job was made a bit easier by the installation of a swear filter that automatically replaces *bleep* for any word on a list that was programmed into it. The obvious candidates are there of course, but also a few you might not expect - "bitch" and "slut" are considered sexist since you never use them for a man, and it is very difficult to speak of the vice president of the US, whose name of course is *bleep* Cheney. (Calling him Richard Cheney just never seems right to me, for some reason ... the man truly is a Dick, you know ... dry.gif }

It's just a 'bot and has no use for logic, or I should say common sense. The name of the Japanese city of Fukuoka used to get bleeped by it, and no one is really sure why. I am also obliged over there to speak of my deep and abiding love of mixed drinks rather than *bleep*tails. huh.gif

I think it serves the purpose of elevating the atmosphere a bit, and I can say this with confidence because I have seen some other forums (again sites for teachers in Korea) that not only have no swear filter but no moderators either. Dank, dark, vile places, they are - places where the merest of cretins hold the rank of ascended masters - and worse, they have no registration functions as well, so people can sign on with any name they like ... you guessed it, some have gone online claiming to be The Bobster and posted the worst sort of scatological stuff trying to make myself and others look bad in the local online community, and even worse still, I was once treated to seeing insults hurled at my girlfriend after people at our site hasd posted pictures of us at one of our get-togethers. On another occasion, a regular user who often told stories and even posted pictures of her cute little dog discovered that someone at one of these rival sites had offered a bounty for a digital picture of the pup's head on a plate ... why, you ask? Still working on it, except to say that the internet is wierd place that sometimes attracts borderline-psychos with too much time on their hands.

In the presence of folk like that, a swear filter is a minor inconvenience.

Now, having said that, there are times when colloquial speech is to be desired. It can instill an air of colleagiality (sp?), as if to say, "We're all friends here, so I know no one will mind if I use a little french in our company, right?" Well, I know how to get around a swear filter for one thing - change color of the letter "i" in cocktails to [COLOR=gray] and it's hardly noticed by the eye, and the filter thinks it's something else - but I have also been known to say "effing" and "What the fark are you talking about?" Everyone knows what I really mean ...

QUOTE
'lol' has become a generic reply, and is now meaningless


I know a woman who actually has been known to SAY "ell-oh-ell" in conversation. Without a doubt, she needs to spend less time wired and get out in the world more often ....

QUOTE
It's like, this one:  - I find that a little mean, like someone thinks you're a complete idiot.


There are times when a person is BEING a complete idiot, and needs a gentle way of being told this fact. Um, I probably overuse that particular smilie. evil.gif

I notice this is a very popular topic. About 8 people have posted just wile I was composing this.


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Jonman
post Jul 27 2004, 02:55 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Jul 27 2004, 08:21 AM)
English has always been a very poetic language, full of rhythm, plays on words, and ripe with metaphorical and cultural depth. While it's true that U cn ndrstnd dis t rytm o t wrds n t lnguge is lst.

There is still a core of information there, but the sensation and feeling of the words is somehow lost.

See, here's where I disagree with you - the rhythm isn't lost, it's just changed. And if anything, the potential for play-on-words is greater with txtspk, as once you remove the extraneous letters, more words will look alike. It's just that it's new that it's not been exploited artfully - it's only a matter of time before serious txtspk poets emerge.

On a personal note, though, I can't stand getting email in txtspk, as it takes me forever to decipher the bloody thing. But it's not without it's place.


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Mata
post Jul 27 2004, 03:13 PM
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The Guardian had a text speak poetry competition last year. I think I remember one entry actually being quite entertaining, although I doubt that 'serious' poets will be adopting text speak for a fair while yet.

I think we'll have to disagree on the rhythm issue. Rhythm is a concept essentially reliant on the way that things sound when spoken out loud (it can be applied to art, but that's a different issue), so either you will have to translate the words into English, thereby negating the point of it being written in text speak, or you will be forced to utter a collection of abbrvd lttrs, which wouldn't be English. I don't think it's possible to have rhythm in a language that is not supposed to be spoken.

When you start taking out vowels you are left with the most plosive letters of the alphabet, the best that could be hoped for is something equivalent to a verbal drum machine. It would certainly be interesting, but it's not language.

Bobster, we actually only have one filter word on this forum, pretty much for the reasons that I've argued above. It's something that I'm really very happy about that people respect this freedom and don't abuse it.


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Pab
post Jul 27 2004, 03:33 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Jul 27 2004, 04:21 PM)
English has always been a very poetic language, full of rhythm, plays on words, and ripe with metaphorical and cultural depth.

This is a bit off-topic but you've hit upon a wee pet hate of mine:

"English has always been a very poetic language..." implies that other languages may not be. I know that's not what you were saying, but this is the message that seems to get drilled into peoples heads.

The reason someone may find English to be a very poetic language is because they have seen poetry written in English and liked/understood it. All languages have scope for imagery, meter, rhym, rythm and more generally for being beautiful things. Living outside of the UK I find many people saying "yuk, Spanish is such an ugly language" or "German doesn't have the beauty of English, the language of Shakespeare". What a load of hogwash. With a little imagination and creativity, and of course some natural knowledge of the subject, utterly gutteral languages with 14 letters in the alphabet and throat-cleaning phonetics can be turned in to vehicles of great art.

I'm not requesting this, but if english speakers could start saying "language has always been a thing of great poetry" rather than "English has always been a very poetic language" then to me, there would be one less sign of pompous assism in the world (present company excepted *hugs* tongue.gif )


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post Jul 27 2004, 03:57 PM
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QUOTE
utterly gutteral languages with 14 letters in the alphabet and throat-cleaning phonetics can be turned in to vehicles of great art.


Absolutely - the only way to listen to thrash metal is in German. wink.gif


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The Bobster
post Jul 27 2004, 04:03 PM
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I think Orwell was mentioned at least once in this thread and since he's in that small category of people I regret I'll never meet, I thought I'd post a couple of links to some excellent essays that everyone who cares about language ought to have ready and available to them .

About censorship in general: The Prevention of Literature. A great title that I will always wish I had thought of.

About good writing and how to do it : Politics and The English Language Can't resist quoting - he gives a short list of 6 things to avoid or try for while using the pen, and the last one is : "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."

And here's a site with links to a lot of his essays online.


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post Jul 27 2004, 04:40 PM
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QUOTE
Many people using text speak to write messages are still students and I think it's especially important for them to learn to write corectly
[Emphasis added]

Anyone else find it ironic that it always seems to be in posts regarding correct grammar and spelling that a word will always be mispelled or a sentence have a small typo? tongue.gif Just find it amusing, that's all!

I completely agree with Mata about the utter lack of rhythm of txtspk. I have to sit there trying to figure out what the person is trying to say. My biggest problem with this sort of typing, however, is simply that it comes as a result of never learning the correct way to communicate in English. It really comes down to looking ridiculous and unprofessional, as well as being really hard to read because it's not standardized at all. It really makes the person look unintelligent (and while I disagree with Mata on the concept of intelligence -- I'm convinced that intelligence is NOT a false value...) but more than that, it makes the person look uneducated.

As for smilies, I think that they are a necessary evil in the world of IMs. When we type in an IRC conversation or on MSN or elsewhere, it becomes a different form of communication than that of formalized written English. We are essentially communicating in the same manner as we speak, but without body language or facial expressions. Smilies try to compensate for this.

Besides which, why is using "hehe," as Forever Unknown suggested, any better than " biggrin.gif "? Neither are technically words belonging to the English language. Both are trying to make up for a deficiency in the way we communicate online.

As for swearing, I really don't swear much in real life, unless I'm quite drunk or in one OTHER situation that shall go unnamed, simply because I find the words to be uncouth. To be fair, I was raised in a household where we don't swear. I didn't even understand the concept of swearing until kindergarten, and then didn't know the words and had to ask people what they meant. Still, I think that swearing comes off, just as in txtspk, as sounding uneducated.

QUOTE
"bitch" and "slut" are considered sexist since you never use them for a man,


That's what you think. laugh.gif


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The Bobster
post Jul 27 2004, 05:20 PM
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QUOTE
QUOTE
"bitch" and "slut" are considered sexist since you never use them for a man,


That's what you think.


Let me amend that. You never use them for heterosexual men.



cool.gif


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Mata
post Jul 27 2004, 05:35 PM
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QUOTE (Pab @ Jul 27 2004, 04:33 PM)
QUOTE (Mata @ Jul 27 2004, 04:21 PM)
English has always been a very poetic language, full of rhythm, plays on words, and ripe with metaphorical and cultural depth.

This is a bit off-topic but you've hit upon a wee pet hate of mine:

"English has always been a very poetic language..." implies that other languages may not be. I know that's not what you were saying, but this is the message that seems to get drilled into peoples heads.

Since you mention it, I think Welsh is among the most poetic languages that I've heard. There's something about the way the words work that is utterly transfixing... It's really rather a shame I have no idea what any of it means. Japanese is also a wonderfully poetic language, again it's a shame that I rarely understand any of the words.

When I wrote 'poetic' there, I was really meaning in terms of sound. You're absolutely right that there is a huge amount of language-fascism among English speakers, and it's something that has always troubled me. I'm not really very good at learning other languages, but I do give it a go when I'm in other countries or when appropriate, for example, a French family on the train held the door open for me this weekend so I slaughtered the French accent and said 'merci' (my French accent really is truly appalling). Another time a I took a Japanese girl who was working in a shop utterly by surprise when I thanked her in Japanese. It seemed only fair because she was clearly learning English at the time, and if she's prepared to make an effort then I don't see why I shouldn't. When I was in Chinatown in San Francisco I felt really guilty that I didn't know how to apologise for bumping in to people in Chinese! (Although that is terribly English of me, wanting to learn to apologise!)

I think our choice of language defines us not only externally but internally too. I've always wondered what English sounds like to a non-English speaker. French (when I don't understand it) sounds flowing, with few plosives and occasional guttural sounds. It's really very varied, but there is a distinct quality to it. German sounds staccato, with syllables piling on top of each-other, Japanese sounds delicate and finely crafted, even when it's being shouted. Of course, this is just how the general sound of a language meets my ears when I don't understand what's being said (which is very frequently if people are talking at a normal conversation speed, and almost permanently in Japanese), and I've wonder what English sounds like to others.

I think languages do generally lend themselves towards different things. The structure of sounds and sentences will lead to suitability for different forms of poetry (for example). I was once told by a non-English speaker who knew seven languages that he thought English was one of the best for literature because it was so easy to leave things feeling ambiguous. I don't know if that's true, I do know that English is a true mongrel of languages, composed as it is from words across all of Europe and the middle east.

There really isn't a native tongue to this land. Spanish and Italian have their roots in Latin, Germany has the Germanic languages, French (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) was also heavily influenced by Latin and other ancient languages. England... Well, we just spent a thousand years or more being invaded by everyone else and got the leftovers.

I doubt English is any better or worse than any other language in overall terms, but its history would suggest that it's grown tough from being beaten to a pulp regularly so that the bits that are leftover are pretty good.

Pab, you're the perfect person to ask this, I assume that the French speakers also have text speak (because it was born from the technology, rather than a geographical situation), is it so commonly seen on French speaking forums? I only wonder because I've read many times about France's pride in its language, and I am curious as to whether the resistance to change has affected the way the younger people use technology.

Oh, and Tigersong, tongue.gif tongue.gif tongue.gif tongue.gif laugh.gif


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Forever Unknown
post Jul 27 2004, 05:43 PM
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QUOTE
As for smilies, I think that they are a necessary evil in the world of IMs. When we type in ann IRC conversation or on MSN or elsewhere, it becomes a different form of communication than that of formalized written English. We are essentially communicating in the same manner as we speak, but without body language or facial expressions. Smilies try to compensate for this.


But I've always found, with IM conversations, that people always know exactly what I mean, and what mood I'm in. I've never had a problem with it and never really, therefore, needed smilies.

QUOTE
Besides which, why is using "hehe," as Forever Unknown suggested, any better than " biggrin.gif  ." Neither are technically words belonging to the English language. Both are trying to make up for a deficiency in the way we communicate online.


Well, that one example in particular is the closest to a smilie as I'll get. I don't know. It just seems more... sincere, I suppose. It's hard to explain. I also find that, in IM's, people will sometimes respond to something with *only* a smilie, like it's a substitute for real words. It irritates me, because what can you say to that? At least when I do a 'hehe' (or 'hee!' or 'bwahahahahaha!', and so forth) I tend to follow it up with something.


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