“Young People’s Everyday Literacies: The Language Features of Instant Messaging” approached something that both at the time of publishing and even now, is an issue in writing studies concepts as seen by the general public: change. Haas, Takayoshi and their compatroits made inroads into one of the many worlds populated by the next generation, and made off on a treasure cruise, displaying wealth in knowledge. Their analysis of the text corpus levels of depth and complexities that surrounded instant-messaging as a communicative medium, and by extension the written word itself. As evidenced by quotation from Crispin Thurlow, IM and similar text-based communications such as SMS, are not necessarily the harbingers of the death of intelligent language construction. Haas and Takayoshi illustrate the fact the conventions they discovered within their sample of messages is more likely an act of evolution, rather than destruction. The conventions they’d found comprised not only efficiency and simplicity such as with letter removal or replacement (wut vs what and b4 vs. before), but also attempts to convey more complex elements. For example, the addition of several letters, or the usage of “eye dialect” helped to convey emotion or intent behind the word.
It harkens back to the old adage: “There’s no sarcasm on the internet; no one can type it.”
I imagine that, factoring in the 5-6 year period between data collection in2008-2009, publishing in 2011 and the writing of this blog in 2014, there hasn’t been a great deal of change in how the 15 features are present and are created. To answer this question, one would specifically need to know what is considered an “IM”; it has many similar tenants to an SMS message, for example, but production of the texts can be reasonably different. An IM could be created via Facebook’s messenger on laptop, while an SMS message is crafted via an android phone; different tools for writing implies different results. Perhaps what one may wish to consider is how these tenants and features of messaging differ across multiple digital mediums?
Something else worth considering is that in 2009, typically speaking, there wasn’t as much word and sentence completion software. This implies that now, there may be a shift towards the language features that add text, rather than remove it. The convenience of being able to craft a full word from a few letters may remove a bit of the need for some of the shortenings. This may make their presence far more scarce and even facilitate the utilization of things such as emoticons (which are also likely easier to facilitate in certain digital features such as IRC or the Facebook messenger, as compared to in the first decade of the 2000’s.) or slang terms.
To that extent, it may be possible that because these features of IM have become so ubiquitous, the newer tools are designed to facilitate them, which implies directionality in the movement of language and communication in a digital environment.
In terms of questions I’ll restate the fact that I’d like to know specifically what program(s) were being to generate the “IMs”, and how this program may have influenced the creation of the messages. Haas and Takayoshi also begin developing on how the social implications of their sample may have influenced the nature of the findings, but don’t really address how the data reflects these differences. Was there any implication of effect? If so, how were the societal divisions of the samples impactful, and what does this suggest?
The one major change I think I’d like to see in a study of this nature would be to introduce a professional linguist. Haas and Takayoshi mentioned utilizing linguistic techniques without having the formal training, and as such, it’d be pertinent to have a proper analysis conducted by one who is experienced in that field, which could then lead into further interpretations of the results of the study, such as implications on how the textual formation of language has influenced or has been influenced by verbal formations- slang being a major point of evidence in this case. To what extent was slang a function of IM versus a common idea used verbally that naturally translated to the textual medium?