How MySpace Is Destroying Language


After my previous posts on language where several commenters pointed out that language is an evolving thing and that I don’t get it and I retorted that it’s my blog and I’ll be a curmudgeon if I want to (Ed Note: not exactly an intellectual conversation), digg.com linked to an unscientific analysis of how MySpace is a failure of humanity. My favorite part:



MySpace has created a safe haven for a scary phenomenon. It fosters a snowballing language deterioration led by the youth. New dialects and minimalist communication conventions appear among friend groups. While I know there’s no ‘one American dialect’ and I can’t force my opinions on what communication is, I do know that the development of minimalist text message-like language on the web is about five steps back from the middle ages.


A man after my own heart.

Comments (13)

  1. BlakeHandler says:

    The great thing about the Internet is that everyone can express their opinions.

    The danger of the Internet is when you only read opinions that agree with your own.

    So it’s understandable that you commented “A man after my own heart”

    All your blog readers understand that this is “your blog” along with “your” opinions. But your adamant that your “agree” that English is an “evolving” language – but your write about how we need to permanently standardize spelling, and now you seem to be offended that MySpace is destroying language. (I’m guessing that you feel Instant Messaging & Email, are also destroying our language)

    The history of spoken languages were originally influenced only by “speaking” – but since those times, writing & reading have greater impact. So without retracing the roots of cuneiform to the printing press; you once again seem to “not get it” (or more appropriately “not accept it”)

    English is SUPPOSED to change – and not ALL of the changes will be to your liking . . .but that’s fine too! (^_^)

  2. johnmont says:

    In the course of six paragraphs, you’ve implied I’m narrow minded, that I don’t get “it” (whatever it is), and that I am also not educated about the history of language.

    Maybe the purpose of these entries is simply to see who responds.

  3. BlakeHandler says:

    My mistake — I expected more from a Microsoft employee’s blog (as opposed to a social MySPace Blog).

  4. johnmont says:

    LOL. Nicely done.

  5. MSDN Archive says:

    Retored = (newly invented word) past tense, meaning ‘to retort’ 😉

  6. johnmont says:

    Language without letters. 😉

  7. johnmont says:

    Alex: Hoist by my own petard.

  8. MSDN Archive says:

    😉

  9. Christian Code says:

    This is a conversation I have had with many people.  I am living in Helsinki right now and I am dumbfounded by the number of native English speaking people that cannot write and speak classical English.  This however does not make them dumb (as some linguists will apparently tell you) but shows that English is an evolving language.  Think of the literature of Trainspotting (someone should write a Messaging book with the same literary meaning…lol)

    However I have seen in a number of news stories that Brits are suffering because they cannot communicate properly to non-native English speakers.  They need to write e-mails in a professional manner yet they write it like they would write their friends msn/myspace messages.

    If someone wrote me a message full of punctuation and spelling mistakes I would think they are retarded evolving language or not.  Yet I don’t think we should revert to classical Shakespearan language.

    Chris

  10. johnmont says:

    From what I remember of high school English, Shakespeare was one of the most notable reshapers of English — inventing words and phrases, misspelling (typically on purpose) relative to common spelling at the time, and so on.

    I was thinking about this more last night and realizing that even since high school, the common spelling of several words has changed. I think if you asked a panel of 1,000 random people across the US, you’d find that "a lot" is now alot, and "all right" is now alright. No loss to the language that I can see, though I still look at them and wonder why my high school English teachers were so adamant that I include the spaces.

  11. Steve Bryant says:

    People have been talking about the "death of language" for a long, long, long time. One example that I like to cite is that some greek philosophers actually bemoaned the practice of writing because they thought it would destroy human memory. How’s that for language purity?

    The bigger issue at play is that, for the first time ever, our society is watching language change in real time. It’s like all of us edu-macated adults get to watch, through the window of sites like MySpace and Friendster and YouTube, how our language (note the emphasis) is being hijacked by the young. Maybe we’re all just a little upset that the separation between young and old(er) has never been more apparent, or visible?