Friday, 1 June 2007

21st May

This week I did not receive a tutorial as Anthony had to speak to some other people but I was confident my new intentions of researching text message language was an adequate line of enquiry. I had intended to print my letterpress design during this week but when I got round to getting into the letterpress room I found myself leaving just as quickly thanks to the third year student who decided to take all of the table space in the room for her non-letterpress work. I did start to wonder what I was paying for in this university when my access to every room other than those used for examination was strictly limited.

Having established my subject for the project I started out on my research by looking through internet articles and books in the library which address the idea of text message language or text-speak and its changing effect on the English language. Unfortunately I have been thus far unable to find work by artists which looks at the rising technological language. Keyword searches in the library can only take you so far so I may still yet find an artist to study and relate to. Teresa Monachino's book Words Fail Me was an interesting viewpoint of a learner of the English language. She addresses her qualms and confusions with the language and communicates them very simply using few colours and effective layout. I thought the way she communicated these situations with words could be helpful to my own visualisations. Reading her book made me understand how many illogical systems and flaws lie within the language already. Maybe it isn't so bad tht peepl r strtn 2 spk lk this. Usually it is extremely irritating to me when people spell things incorrectly unless it could be a typing error. However I may just be reciprocating the same feelings about spelling that people in the past have had - like my English teacher. After all language is only there to communicate. I suppose I care about correct spelling because I fear that if it changes I may have to re-learn certain words.

This is no doubt the case with many people today who argue against the development of text-speak. They fear the language will change too quickly - that they'll need to learn new words. They scorn at those who use text-speak because they think they're linguistically challenged or that they're rebellious to the oh-so-praised works of Shakespeare and Blake etc. These poets and writers no doubt had a huge grasp of the language in their days. Today however, we have mobile phones and the internet. Information is in vast quantities and we want this information in it's entirety and we want it now. Many anti-text-speakers fail to see that the new patterns in language usage are not the result of juvenile, linguistic wrecklessness but rather of necessity. It has been necessary for people to abbreviate their words in text messages due to the 160 character limit which is purely for the service provider's financial benefit. If the change in language is caused by this necessity then we are talking about a language of technology. Shakespeare himself was known to have several spelling variations of his name and even made up new words for the language due to the emotive subjects of his scripts. Today we are finding the need for change with technology. If a language does not change to accomodate new ideas (broadband)/objects (mobile phones)/actions (emailing and googling) then it fails as a tool of communication. Reading certain comments made by internet users on the subject of text-speak it was clear that some people have misunderstood language. 'The English language is something to be proud of' - this is what was written by one anti-text-speak user. I was confused by this comment. Writers and poets in the past have used the language creatively and elegantly. They have been playful with the words. The language itself has changed for hundreds of years. But the language isn't there to be elegant and fancy and rhythmical. It is simply for communcation.

I doubt most of the abbreviations in text-speak will survive as time goes on unless I am underestimating the amount of people who text using extreme abbreviation. It could be that shorter words like two/too/to may be substituted for '2'. The phonetic value of text-speak is enormous. This is what is causing numerals like 2, 4, 8 and 1 to be used as words. I haven't yet seen any other numerals being used as phonetic abbreviations but it is possible to use 3/5/6/7/9 on some occasions. Other abbreviations like 'b' for be/bee, 'u' for you/ewe/ew/oo and 'n' for and/en/no/in are the more basic text-speak phrases which are the first to be used by those adopting text-speak.

It seems to me that being able to link this change in the language with events of change from history may argue my point subtly but clearly enough. Subtle messsages are usually more desirable and effective than obvious ones. My intention is to convey the fact that a linguistically able person who appreciates the English language all the same is not against change in the language which is intentional. Not against text-speak. It may look uglier but it sounds exactly the same. Those who love Shakespeare for instance, probably do not see that it is the sound of Shakespeare that they love and not necessary how it looks written down. Text-speak is simply a different way of writing English, not speaking it.

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