Technology and Language Change (Blog Post 2 of 4)

““Over the past fifty years,” writes Naomi Baron in “Always On,”
“American society has become increasingly informal.”  This change in
our culture can be seen across the whole of our society, from “the way
chairs are arranged in classrooms” to “the way we write.”  Do you
agree with Baron that society has become more informal, or do you see
the evolution another way?  What do you feel caused this change?  And,
from the standpoint of education/language, how do feel this newfound
informality will affect future teachers, including you?”

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2 Responses to Technology and Language Change (Blog Post 2 of 4)

  1. YoungJ says:

    I agree with Baron that “American society has become increasingly informal”. As Baron states, “…our schools are increasingly encouraging students to write what is on their minds, with the objective of self-expression taking precedence over “proper” writing style” (166). In conjunction with this, her mentioning that America has a fixation with appearing young, as adults allow them selves both culturally and linguistically to dumb themselves down, provides one logical reason for why American society has become increasingly informal. Online blogs, Twitter, Facebook, texting, and email are among the most obvious sources for promoting such informality in our society and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that these means of communication, with the exception of email at times, do not have any sort of prescriptive emphasis placed upon them. The most limiting factors any of these things have on them is Twitter’s 140 character limit and or the character limit we have per text on our cell phones. This lack of rules is enticing to the majority of the population. Both adults and children alike seem to thrive on not only using communication outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to show what is on their mind, but to also see what is on others, as essentially many aspects of our lives lose their privacy and therefore become informal.

    From an education/language standpoint, I think that many teachers have found that using methods that keep students interested in writing through activities that either utilize communication outlets such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, or imitate them, have created success in the classroom because young students today have become more engaged in writing, and writing well, than ever before, as the Lunsford’s Stanford study suggested. Although I do not personally take part in Facebook or Twitter, I think that if such communication tools are contributing to enhancing students writing and language skills, then I will support using more informal writing in the classroom. I do agree with Baron that we need to make sure that our children understand the difference between creativity and normative language use (175). I also agree that the Internet is corrupting the way people craft traditional writing and also the way they speak face-to-face (176). With these two arguments in mind, I think that students need to understand the importance of tone of voice whether it’s through writing, texting, emailing, etc. While tone can often come down to a matter of opinion that differs from the writer to the reader or the speaker to the listener, students need to understand appropriate ways of writing to a teacher versus the way they communicate to a friend. Additionally, students need to gain verbal skills in the classroom that give them the confidence to work with their peers face to face. Often times, students face the issue of “friending” someone on Facebook, yet not saying a single word to them in the classroom or other public setting. If a group creates a Facebook group to work on a school project they also need to be able to work with their peers face-to-face or even over the phone. I believe that the Internet has created this sort of social problem/new kind of language barrier for many young people, and as a future educator, I hope to address it.

  2. gingersparkle says:

    I definitely agree that society today is much less formal than in the past. Specifically, however, I think that writing as a medium of communication has grown into something less formal. In the past, writing was used it was to communicate among businesses or people who did not know eachother well enough to talk on the phone. However, today writing, or written communication is used everywhere: email, text messaging, facebook, twitter, and so forth. Due to the fact that these ways of communicating are obviously very informal, writing itself has developed sects of informality. It is no longer just used for professional purposes; instead, its used for friends and family members to communicate as well. Even though there are many less formal ways to communicate with writing, the formal relationships still exist in today’s society, and members of society have the ability to distinguish the difference between writing to their best friend or their teachers. For example, even though Twitter exists as an informal way to communicate via writing, a student who is trying to talk to his teacher about his grades is not going to use Twitter, nor Twitter lingo to do so. The student can discriminate between situations of formality and informality, and use writing appropriately for each. Therefore, perhaps it is not society that has become less formal, but writing that has become more versatile. Today writing is not only the fastest, easiest way to communicate (like sending a quick text message to a friend), but it also prevails as a very formal mode of communication (emailing a teacher to discuss an assignment). This gives the idea that writing has ultimately developed over the past years, rather than decreasing in anyway. The formal aspect of writing still exists, but with it many forms of informal writing exist as well.