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How the Internet is changing language IRL (in real life)

Keep Up With The Internet Or Fail

Google my tweets, baby!

There’s no doubt that the Internet is changing the way we express ourselves, not only via email, SMS, IM and social media, but also in everyday spoken conversation.

Picture a typical ‘boy-picks-up-girl’ scene. The parting shot used to be “Call me”. Nowadays there are so many options: text me, Skype me, Facebook me, BBM me.

The academics maintain that the language is not changing, but that it is merely being enriched with expressions that enable ‘onliners’ to communicate within the digital landscape.

IMHO (in my humble opinion), the changes are a combination of brand new words, words that have taken on new meanings and acronyms that have become mainstream language.

Is this really a ‘bloggable’ subject, you ask?

The most famous new word has to be ‘Google’ – the search engine. Since its launch, ‘Google’ has not only become a generic household name (like Kleenex), but also a verb – ‘Just google it’ now forms part of our everyday language.

The ‘Twittersphere’ is dotted with its own lexicon: you post a tweet; you can retweet a tweet, and then there’s hashtag, which is like a cult leader with a fast growing following.

Standard English words are taking on new meanings: fan, friend, follow, trending. Some concepts are important enough to justify not only one new word, but a range of synonyms: defriend, unfriend, deface, unfollow.

When is a word officially a word?

Oxford Dictionaries Online publishes a list of words as they are officially added to the OED (minimum 5 years of confirmed usage). Recent additions include:

  • App – a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose; an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.
  • Clickjacking – the malicious practice of manipulating a website user’s activity by concealing hyperlinks beneath legitimate clickable content, thereby causing the user to perform actions of which they are unaware.
  • ZOMG – Oh My God! (used especially on electronic message boards as a sarcastic comment on an inexperienced or overenthusiastic poster)

Regardless of our age or generational typecast, staying linguistically current makes us good marketers. And let’s face it, if we don’t keep up, it would be like . . . epic #fail!

If all of this is making your head spin, then I suggest spending some time on www.netlingo.com or www.urbandictionary.com.

At least you’ll be keeping up with the Cybernauts.

Boss Key.

Alison Treadaway

Alison Treadaway

Vice President, Marketing, Striata, a Doxim Company

She joined the Striata in 2002, and served as Managing Director of the African region for 13 years. Prior to this, Alison’s experience in Internet-related solutions included marketing and sales positions at Internet Solutions and Dimension Data.

Alison has 24 years of experience in the ICT sector. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Languages, WITS) and a Post-graduate Diploma in Business Administration (WITS Business School).

Read more of Alison's blog posts here or connect with her on the following social channels: