How is Social Media Changing Language?

A  = 1K wds

And ampersands are awesome in company names. P&G. H&M. A&E.

Not so much in copy.

Unless you’re trying to fit a complete thought into a 140-character tweet. Or about 100, to leave space for a retweet.

When you’re trying to economize on “spaces” (a shorter word than “characters”), using the ampersand symbol “&” saves 2 spaces over “and”

So “and” becomes “&” – “for” becomes “4” – and “creative” becomes “cr8v”

And sayings become acronyms. LOL. OMG. IDK.

Or emojis.   

Need guidance on using these “picture letters” that originated in Japan? If you have teens in the house, you already know. Otherwise, check out Emojipedia.

And who needs punctuation? That period at the end of a complete thought becomes extraneous. It might even be the character that puts you over the limit.

Conversely, as the NYT recently reported, “punctuation on steroids” could be just what you need in place of actual words!!!!!

And in my quest for brevity as I substitute “calm” for “serene” or “luck” for “serendipity,” I wonder if longer words will fade away over time. They take up too much space in our world of limited character counts and attention spans.

Yet this would be a huge loss for the human experience. Words have nuance. They spark emotions. And tug on us in different ways.

That’s why my well-worn copy of the Dictionary of Synonyms is just as important as my dictionary.com app.

And speaking of limited attention spans, while I was linking to the app, I noticed 7 Words the Internet Reinvented.

It also made me wonder if some of the most beautiful words in English could be facing extinction.

What about serendipity, mellifluous and effervescent? Or insouciance, labyrinthine and denouement? Are they just too long in our evanescent and ephemeral environment?

Yet there’s upside to all of this. My fervent hope is that jargon-like words such as “utilize” will fade away, and we’ll simply say “use.” Maybe Strunk and White will finally get their wish to see “prestigious” truly become “an adjective of last resort.”

Parts of this are difficult for someone who prefers clean and clear copy, free of abbreviations and other affronts to the eye. To someone who has a hard time with the AP Style convention of abbreviating states – Calif., Colo. and Conn. There’s much more majesty in California, Colorado and Connecticut.

Like everything in life, it’s a balance. And it’s about your audience. Whom are you writing for? Whom do you want to influence? What form of the language do you need to speak to do that?

IDK, wht do u thnk ?!?!? . . .

 

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an enthusiastic alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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