Online language communities

On an episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Word of Mouth, that I listened to recently, they talk about how English might change in the future. One interesting thing that came up was that new linguistics communities are emerging online on forums and other places where people spend a lot of time chatting to one another. One way this happens is that misspellings and typos, which might be accidental or deliberate, are adopted by other members of the virtual community and become a way of identifying insiders from outsiders. While such words might be viewed as errors by outsiders, for insiders they become the norm, and might eventually replace the ‘correct’ words.

So if you hear or see words being used in a way that seems odd, ignorant or incorrect way to you, don’t forget that that usage might be acceptable and normal among a particular group of people. This is one way how language changes and new varieties emerge.

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