backtop


Print 15 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Dec 20 at 8:58 PM

In the text area, a familiar punctuation mark is taking on a new meaning

The digital age of instant communication has dramatically affected the English language by changing its grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.  Then again the English language has survived and thrived due in part to its shameless flexibility, which historically led it to liberally borrow from other language and accept unusual new creative linguistic constructs.

The New Republic is a news site that focuses primarily on espousing neoliberal political views, but it also offers a bit of interesting technology coverage at times.  Story editor Ben Crair has actually offered up a rather interesting piece on how the period has become a long desired piece of punctuation -- the "irony mark".

A 2007 study by The American University found that at the time students add sentence ending punctuation (i.e. '!', '?', and '.') 39 percent of the time in texts and 45 percent of the time in online chats.  The punctuation at the end of the last sentence of the text -- the so-called "transmission-ending punctuation" occurred especially infrequently.  It was found in only 29 percent for texts and 35 percent for IMs.
The angry period

Part of English language speakers' trend of shortening words -- noted by other peer-reviewed research -- and dropping punctuation in the digital age is out of necessity.  Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, traditional SMS was limited to 160 characters.

But it is still somewhat odd to observe how in an age where punctuation is being mothballed by so many, that digital denizens are increasing the period ('.') to express sarcasm, frustration, and/or anger.

Mark Liberman, a professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, tells Mr. Blair:

Not long ago, my 17-year-old son noted that many of my texts to him seemed excessively assertive or even harsh, because I routinely used a period at the end.

In the world of texting and IMing … the default is to end just by stopping, with no punctuation mark at all.  In that situation, choosing to add a period also adds meaning because the reader(s) need to figure out why you did it. And what they infer, plausibly enough, is something like ‘This is final, this is the end of the discussion or at least the end of what I have to contribute to it.’

But lest the humble dot feel demeaned, it still has many friendlier usages, such as it symbolic use in internet domain names and "..." which strangely has the reverse affect as a single '.' when ending the sentence -- inviting the conversation to continue.

Sources: The New Republic, The American Univ. [pdf; study]



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Truth.
By purerice on 12/7/2013 11:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
Do you mean to say you loose it when people get lose with grammar?

Spelling the opposite of "win" with a double o grates me to no end. I have two friends who became teachers and their written grammar is terrible. I offered to help correct their letters to parents for free because I was ashamed on their behalf.

Studies done of etymology and linguistics have shown that if a group of people splinters off a larger group, their language will likely be unrecognizable in as few as 500 years. Changes generally occur due to environmental differences. Sadly teenage metalanguage today is unrecognizable from 20 years ago not because of advances in society but because of declines. My college professors lamented that the reading I had to do was half of what they had to do, but the reading today is half of even that. All the while tuition is 8 times what I paid.
What exactly are they paying for?


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

Related Articles
















botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki