Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Power Of Social Media On Languages

It wasn't too long ago that there was an article on the BBC (ah, the good ol' Beeb) that we found very interesting. It was about the tu form in French becoming very common in social media. Read the full article here.

For those not in the know, in French using the word tu (second person singular) rather than vous (second person plural) is considered very informal. However, it has become commonplace across social media.

Perhaps tu being shorter than vous contributes to this, especially in the case of social media sites such as Twitter that have character limits.

Of course, social media isn't usually considered the most formal setting. Even if you don't necessarily know a person, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc it would be fine to use a colloquial register.

Colloquial language is fine. Manipulating their logo in any of the above ways is not.

You probably rarely write in full sentences. Would you start a text with "Dear..." and end with "yours sincerely"? We think not!

Text messages have also had a huge effect on the way people use language for some time now. If you've ever had a Pay-As-You-Go SIM card you know the importance of getting everything you need to say into that one text!

Those familiar with the internet before social media will remember that MSN Messenger, AIM and other IMCs (instant messaging clients) had people using BRB, OMG and the now world-famous LOL. Meaning "laugh out loud" and never "lots of love". We've all heard the horror stories of texts that read:

"Sorry to hear your father passed away. LOL"

Sorry for your loss. LOL

The point was made that French, German, Chinese and English users tend to use less formal language on social media sites. On the other hand, Japanese users show all sorts of formalities in their language use. Though if you're familiar with Japanese, you will know that it is rife with honorifics. If you used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the brilliant original, not this CGI rubbish the kids have now) or any kung fu films, you will know the word Sensei. Other honorifics include -san -chan, -kun and many, many, many more!