New technological media and traditional spoken English

The written English used in E-mails and internet chat-room conversations interests me because of its pragmatic nature and its current proliferation. My curiosity for this aspect of language use led me to consider analysing my own linguistic behaviour and that of some of my contemporaries. This aspect of the English language interests me simply because I believe the internet is the ‘new’ medium for communication; a place where people can efficiently indulge in social interaction, send messages across the world in seconds and receive up to the minute news bulletins.

This information can take many linguistic shapes and forms. Much of the language on the internet emulates the kind found in; newspapers, magazines etc. Nevertheless, I think the internet also gives an opportunity for new non-standard language forms to arise particularly through social intercourse, thus producing an amalgamating effect on the English language by fusing the language of the new technology with existing spoken English forms. The English language has developed over many centuries into the form which we now recognise, and are acquainted with today.

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One area of major development and change of language – in this day and age – can be attributed to technological pressures facing society, which are occurring and influencing its users especially through the use of the internet. Change within the English language can also be imputed to the various influences it has encountered, such as that of invasion and the movement of people, technological development, changing social attitudes, general changes in attitude to what is perceived to be acceptable or not and the semantic & lexical developments as well as the growing influence of technology.

The factors influencing language modification can be generally seen to arise from a multitude of sources; nevertheless, I believe that the written forms being broadcast over the internet mirror the spoken mode of English more than any other form of the English language. Thus, internet technology has enabled the vast number of lexical neologisms to gradually integrate with the English language by means of imitating the spoken form of English.

David Crystal, a well-known author and linguistics professor at the University of Wales, expressed his similar views to argue that a multitude of sources have now become available to propagate informal and non-standard English. He claims that the ‘Resources for the expression of informality in writing have hugely increased – something not seen in English since the Middle Ages. ‘1 This idea of a language moving constantly and never completely staying still is a generic phenomenon as language can be shown to be changing through pressures placed upon it by a large faction of society.

Moreover, since more people are utilising the new technology, various forms of communication are expected to take place through the internet. This will inevitably allow internet technology to be perhaps the most prolific platform of conveying, communicating and transmitting the English language. Throughout this discourse, I intend to present spoken English as the dominant source of influence of the English language through the internet. I propose to verify my hypothesis by providing authentic contemporary evidence. Hence, I shall scrutinize four pieces of internet data by making a comparison of the linguistic features found within them.

The data that I have assessed is as follows; a) An internet chat-room conversation b) A second internet chat-room conversation c) An e-mail d) A responsive e-mail. All of the participants involved have been born and brought up in England. They have resided in their local district of Berkshire for much of their life. Permission was sought from each individual to allow this data to be examined and utilised as part of this research project. Prior to the transmission of each of the texts shown, the participants were unaware of my research project, and were oblivious of the fact that their transmissions would be used as examples for this research.