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Language Change in the Digital Language

Chart showing the most popular networking sites
Online communication and language change
Social media has allowed for various forms of communication allowing people to share information
and have discussions on various topics and various discourse genres (styles of written and spoken
communication) such as jokes and videos. This has led to new forms of English:
Semantic Changes
Words that are already in use are given additional meanings. Examples include:
‘Troll’ – this describes an internet user who purposefully incites anger and seeks attention through
outrageous or unreasonable comments
Tagging – this is where one identifies or links a user or an account on their post (usually done
through the @ symbol)
Liking – to show appreciation for a post or comment (indicated by clicking on a symbol, using a heart
of a thumbs up)
Thread – a string of messages that make up a conversation on message board/forum. Theybegin
with an initial message and then continue as a series of replies or comments
Timeline – on Twitter, this is a stream of tweets from accounts a user follows.
Channel – on YouTube, a division designed to show a user’s videos
Story – on Instagram, a feature allowing users to share photos and 10 second videos; here the user
can overlay text, emojis, etc.
Ate – used when someone has done an outstanding job at a performance, designing something, etc
Person 1: ‘Did you see Beyonce’s performance last night’
Person 2: ‘Yesss, she ate that’
Catfish – refers to someone who poses as someone else online
Wall – the homepage of a social media profile
Profile – homepage of a user
Status – On Facebook, anything to write to express your feelings, On WhatsApp, a feature that
allows users to share pictures and videos
Home – the main page of website
Social media has allowed for the introduction of new lexis
Blending words
*There’s also the blending of character names to create ‘ship names’ in internet fandom spaces
Emoticons – punctuation marks, letters and numbers used to create icons showcasing an
emotion e.g. <3 , :) :D ;)
Repeating the last letter of a word to indicate enthusiasm ( used in more informal online
Random keyboard combination to indicate laughter or shock (known colloquially as
‘keyboard smashes’)
Typing in Capital letters now indicates shouting
The use of hyperlinks
The instant nature and speed of internet communication has resulted in many abbreviations and
shortened words (this could also be due to character limits imposed on social networking sites)
Moots – on Twitter (it has also spread to other social media platforms), this is a telescoped version
of the word mutuals. This is when a user follows someone and they follow that user back.
OOMF – This stands for ‘one of my followers’ on Twitter
Srsly – telescoped seriously
TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t read
Noob – telescoped newbie
HMU – hit me up ; means message me or contact me
*David Crystal on Technology and Language Change
Technology always has influenced Language quite dramatically. The internet has increased the rate
of language change. He also refutes the idea that it’s only the young that use text-speech and that
it’s ruining the English language.