I’ve always been fascinated by the way we use words; written, spoken, texted… it’s all unique to each person but the same in so many ways. Words convey feelings and emotions, portray a tone of voice, communicate opinions, outlines facts, build relationships… the list is endless.
With the rise of social networks being seen to break down regional barriers, some linguists have voiced concerns that the spoken word will change from it’s current mix of dialects and colloquialisms to a common, nationwide parlance. But what does, in fact, seem to be happening is that social networks are actually facilitating the spread of dialects, helping some to become increasingly pronounced and well used.
Take the word ‘mint’ as an example. In Manchester, ‘mint’ means ‘very good’, as in “that film was mint”. These days, the term crops up all over the place, with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter featuring it in status updates and tweets from across the country.
With an increased ability and need to get written content out there as fast as possible (consider the rise in use of iPhones, for example, which have given even more immediacy to social networking, as well as texting) people are more likely to type as they speak, using colloquialisms, respellings and abbreviations and spreading their regional dialect.
But in amongst all the ‘lol’s and ‘rofl’s (which, coincidentally and annoyingly, are used in spoken speech by my friend – who shall remain unnamed), are we finding a new language emerging which combines dialects in a way which, rather than losing their regional distinctions, actually celebrates and encourages them?