Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 - Part 3

To wrap up this book review of Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (read Part 1 and Part 2), two sociolinguistic points can be made.

First, it is entirely understandable (and to be expected) that text messaging inspire some harsh critics. David Crystal makes the following point in his first chapter:

David Crystal

If I had a pound for every time I have heard of someone predicting a language disaster because of a new technological development, I should be a very rich man. My bank balance would have started to grow with the arrival in the Middle Ages of printing, thought by many to be the invention of the devil because it would put all kinds of false opinions into people's minds. [Bloggific comment: This has indeed come to pass.] It would have increased with the arrival of the telegraph, telephone, and broadcasting, each of which generated short-lived fears that the fabric of society was under threat. And I would have been able to retire on the profits from text messaging, the latest innovation to bring out the prophets of doom.
Second, text messaging is just another instance of language use and, importantly for the strong prescriptivists out there, change. In terms of evolutionary linguistics, it really is not all that interesting unless the person researching is mostly interested in technology, because "texting is just another variety of language, which has arisen as a result of a particular technology." The historical linguistic aspect, however, could be very fascinating, as one observes yet another linguistic adaptation:
Some people dislike texting. Some are bemused by it. Some love it. I am fascinated by it, for it is the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative and to adapt language to suit the demands of diverse settings. In texting we are seeing, in a small way, language in evolution.

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