Friday, December 01, 2006

Over-thinking 1337 or Under-thinking Lanugage

My mother, a hippy and teacher at university, has always had a progressive view on the English language. Any correction of improper English would usually be met by "Proper English was invented by rich, white guys trying to keep minorities down." Then she would sprout examples of different dialects that, while not text book proper, still should be considered completely acceptable. That was usually met by me rolling my eyes, because I heard things like this all my life, but her basic thesis was not lost on me. Language should be solely used for communication. If my feelings are understood by you, then it shouldn't matter how I communicate them. This effects me especially, being pretty severely dyslexic (kind of amazed I could get that word spelled right) and tend to make up words and grammar.

A few sundays ago,, a nerdy web-comix, made fun of New Zealand schools for allowing "students to use 'Text Speak' in their answers." Since reading this I have been considering how I felt about the rout we, the internet connected, immediacy demanding, ADD evolved youth culture, have been taking the English language. Leet, (Yes I'm attempting a serious discussion about 1337 on our society. I'm as shocked as anyone else . . . I feel a little dirty. Editors note: this will not be very serious) according to Wikipedia and the horde of nerds spending hours and hours debating such definitions, "is a sociolect variety used primarily on the Internet, particularly in online games." (Wikipedia seemed appropriate to use, I would not use if for a serious article or paper, unless it was about something like leet) This seems to cover the whole gambit of the internet language. (i.e. Emotocons, abbreviations, and ASCII) What benefits does this new way of communicating have on the world, or does it further degrade it? Does it segregate from or add to the beauty of our great communicators? Is it the next evolutionary step in our language or just something dreamed up by Ingsoc?

My thoughts: It's so much more complicated that any of that. Leet was dreamed up more out of a necessity for ease and privacy, then a new communication. Newspeak, from George Orwell's 1984, was a way to stifle the power of words, to take there emotional value, but leet and leet-like-speach can arguably show more emotion then it's english counterpart. LOL is more commonly used (weather for real or ironically or double-ironically or how-ever-much-ironically you want) and more emotionally charged then "Laugh Out Loud." What worries me is the title "Leet," derived from elite. This reminds me too much of the rich elite, who created the standard of language, my mother always warned me about. This word comes from geek counter's need to find an area where is is superior, but it creates underlings of everyone outside of the geek sphere. There is only a fine line. Between what, I have no idea, but it sounded like an appropriate way to end.

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