I wrote a little article about emoticons, symbols, and other fun things in Online English for The Conversation. The article has also been picked up by the New Republic, as part of the magic of Creative Commons licenses.
In many casual discussions of language and the internet, it’s not uncommon to hear about how such “textspeak ruins language” – how technology has made everybody lazy with their speech and writing. Major media outlets such as the LA Times, the BBC and The Daily Mail have all bemoaned the ways in which people communicate through technology.
Of course, language does change when it’s used to text or write messages on the internet. It’s even become the focus of the field of linguistics known as Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC). Although it specifies computers in its name, CMC refers to the study of interaction facilitated by technology like computers, mobile phones and tablets.
And contrary to the idea that these innovations are corrupting language, they actually demonstrate a creative repurposing of symbols and marks to a new age of technology. These evolutions of language are swift, clever and context-specific, illustrating the flexibility of the language to communicate nonverbal meaning in a nuanced, efficient manner.
You can read the rest here.