Internet Lingo and Academic Prose

In doing research for the Future of Literacy project, I keep thinking about the gap that exists between the writing done on the internet and the writing submitted in school. It’s only going to continue-what started off as chat sessions became instant messaging which became texting and facebook chats, etc.

If we say that we want to incorporate technology into classrooms, how do we locate and mark the difference between the more casual language found on the internet and more academic prose–and then teach the difference in a modern classroom? Is there a way we can contain the LOLs and :) from popping up in essays if we so closely incorporate the newest innovations available? The dictionary itself conforms to include newer terms and computer jargon. Do you have any concerns that the English language will grow to incorporate this type of writing, and what do you think that means in terms of being considered “literate” in the future?

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32 Responses to Internet Lingo and Academic Prose

  1. blhein says:

    I have been thinking about this as well Katie while writing my Future of Literacy paper. I was listening to the radio the other day, which I feel is somewhat a technology of the past, now with Pandora and Ipods, and I heard that the Webster Dictionary has just added the word “defriend” to its collection. Even as I type it in this blog text box the spell check underlines the word, prompting me the change the spelling, add a hyphen, or change it to the word defined.
    I think that the problem is already among us today. I have a younger sister who has grown up with technology. She was practicing typing with two fingers by the age of six and before that she would ask us to open paint for her so that she could “draw mommy a pretty picture.” She was mesmerized as a child when my sisters and I would allow her to sit on our laps if she didn’t squirm to watch us surf the internet and chat with friends on AIM. The beeps that the computer made astounded her and she wanted near the computer whenever any one else was. So what am I saying? I’m saying that she grew up with the computer unlike myself or my sisters. We were introduced to the black screen green figure games in computer class in fourth grade and I remember getting a headache from looking at the screen too long. A computer and internet access was installed in our house when I turned ten years old, and even then the access to the web was limited because we could only afford one phone line at the time.
    I think that for my younger sisters generation, teachers are already struggling with this problem. When emailing my younger sister, I prompted her to write in complete sentences and to use paragraphs. She responded with one paragraph of a detailed description of her day and then I was disappointed when she stated, “Well enough of that! THAT’S TOOOOOOOoooOOOO HARD!” I didn’t respond to that email.
    I think that teachers will have to make it clear to students early on in education to use proper grammar and sentence structure and just be strict on those who do not follow the proper rules. Using too many explanation points or all capital letters is not proper grammar and is not appropriate for the classroom setting.
    I think that the English Language with change drastically as the public becomes more reliant on technology. The abundant amount of new words produced because of computers and the internet will continue to grow as long as there are more advancements and the need to become more literate in technology will become more demanding especially for the younger generations in school. Like we discussed in class a couple of weeks ago, the term literate now encompasses so much more than it did a hundred years ago and I am sure that the definition literacy will continue to grow.

  2. smc90 says:

    But y cant we use our internet lingo 4 more serious purposes? Cant we express meaning and understand the rules of a language thru these shortcuts? Who sayz I cant b literate just b/c I don’t use proper English all of the time?

    Although the previous few sentences were not in “Standard English”, I suspect you had no trouble reading them (apart from those of you who cringed at the thought of students writing this way). The way that children interact with texts today is changing and literacy along with it. As mentioned in the above response, words like “defriend” are entering the English language. I doubt that I’ll convince you in this blog post that these changes are acceptable; however you should consider the following:

    This link shows a list of common words in our daily vernacular that were first documented by Shakespeare’s writing. If he is allowed to create words that have meaning why can’t we?

    Additionally, consider the accessibility of literacy that these online resources provide. It is estimated that 73.8% of American homes have internet access. How many of these homes do you think have extensive collections of classic novels?
    Though I certainly didn’t answer the posed questions, I think these are some things to evaluate as we condemn the way that the internet is affecting literacy.

  3. kms186 says:

    I think as long as there is a fine line between what is accepted in classwork and what is allowed to be used for communication, then there can be no confusion for what is asked in a classroom. This language that comes with technology is really only used for the communication technology involved with the new electronics we have today. We teach children that spoken slang is not allowed in papers, so why would the language created by modern communication technology be allowed in papers as well? I understand that we are communicating and writing academic papers on the same devices, but that does not mean they require the same vocabulary.
    Maybe I am being a bit optimistic about the future, but hopefully I will not be encountering this problem in my teaching of pre-school children. The children who are being affected seem to be getting younger and younger, though. There are fourth graders who have cell phones and know how to to text message and take those phones with them everywhere. I did not have my own cell phone until the end of my tenth grade year of high school, and my mother conveniently had text messaging disabled. I couldn’t even imagine being a 4th grader and knowing what to do with a cell phone. I was way more interested in climbing trees as a 4th grader than I was in maintaining a social life.

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