The modern world, due to the advancements in technology, offers people an array of means to communicate with one another and convey ideas to the person to whom the message is addressed. Language is the most essential component of communication, and the quality of the language used is measured by its ability to express the meaning clearly and concisely. However, in the context of the next generation, there exists a main concern that they are ignoring many relevant rules relating to language while communicating, which may entail a situation where the meaning of language will be lost for them. The purity of English as an international language is time-tested and we should not compromise it due to our ignorance. This paper attempts to discuss the various means like email, blog, chat, etc which are being used to communicate with friends as well as parents with a special focus on how such methods of communication differ when addressed to elder people and peers.
Today, when the tempo of technological and scientific innovations is growing in a steadfast manner, the ability to keep in touch by different means has increased. Even in the olden times’ people have been able to communicate with others by sending letters. But the process has been cumbersome and time-consuming. Now, a person can contact another, using Instant Messaging (IM) which is a faster as well as cheaper means of communication. Therefore, it has become one of the most preferred modes of communication in the modern world. However, as this system began gaining popularity, more and more people started using this, and thus the volume of communication a person handles increased. This has entailed the need for shortening the messages by using acronyms or other forms of abridging as well as graphic representations etc for the purpose of quickness. Using ‘u’ for ‘you’, ‘g’nite’ for ‘goodnight’ etc are examples of such cases that people use to share thoughts and opinions online. In the present day, people cannot imagine a situation where they have to remain without facilities of modern technology for communication, because they have become inextricably dependent on these comforts. Additionally, in the fast-paced modern world, speedy communication has become imperative for personal as well as business matters.
Most businesses today rely on making idea exchanges by means of IM messages. All in all, the world is full of information that needs to be saved or recorded after being shared. For making this process easier, people invented IM in the early 1990s through which they shared their thoughts and emotions with others of different age groups or even generations (Jacobs). As stated earlier, due to its cost-effectiveness, speed and ease, teenagers find it a magnificent source to keep in touch with both their friends as well as family. As Gloria E. Jacobs notes in her article: “The literature demonstrates that literacy practices such as IM are part of the unsettled relationships between in and out of school literacy” (Jacobs 204). Her research finds that IM is a source for students to practice literacy and that it does not affect their academic writing. However, personally, I feel that IM is not good for students as it fashions their language skills in such a manner as to make them stray away from the norms of formal academic writing. Jacobs has focused her study on an honors student who practiced IM in an informal way but also wrote good academic papers. The point that has to be understood here is that this particular case is alone one and every student need not have the same capability for taking these two different writing worlds together and using language that is appropriate.
George Orwell in this respect encourages finding out the meaning of better communication without any attempt to forget the native language in its purity and originality (Orwell 4). In this context, the main concern is that IM has become so widely used that it entails an enormous volume of traffic and people began finding shorter forms of words and phrases to make the process quicker. They also started ignoring grammar rules to condense sentences. Thus a new language evolved for communicating over the internet. When students practice writing such language, its characteristic traits influence their academic writing and a different style creeps into it.
Though students communicate with their parents through the internet, the language they use may vary from the one they use while writing to their peers, and out of respect or fear they adhere to formal language. Having to switch styles in this manner makes them confused and negatively affects their skills in formal writing.
Particularly, the popularity of IM among teenagers can be given in the framework of a versatile outlook on cultures and subcultures. IM, as literature language, has not only a notional function; it also serves as a tool for making people unite (Jacobs 206). In fact, no one wants to be outside the borders of communication with people. This concern is proper for every individual in terms of whether to follow approaches and principles of public opinion or not. However, a user should not just pick up words for making a bit of a whole picture about the subject of the discussion (Orwell 13). Writing, in a formal context, should adhere to certain rules and it needs clarity and precision to make it effective. The language students use in IM lacks clarity and can be easily misinterpreted. Besides, they ignore many rules of grammar and syntax due to which the receiver does not get the sender’s intended meaning.
On the other hand, communicating via the Internet and searching for a community that fits a man’s interest best is a process of personal development. In other words, for example, IM makes people successful and modern socially (Jacobs 206). The only concern that scholars have relating to IM is that it may adversely affect academic writing. Hence they instruct students to follow a more formal style while sending messages over the internet (Jacobs 207). This is why many teenagers do not like when their communication is interrupted by adults sending long instant messages. In this respect, George Orwell would definitely raise an objection against such an attitude to English. On the contrary, he would admit that it is significant for IM to be a means of good communication. Supporting this idea the writer emphasizes that “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity” (Orwell 18). What is more, the principles of etiquette are still present in the information environment. As a matter of fact, language is alive when it is spoken. In return, it is spoken when its units and significant features are followed.
Tradition and imitation are factors that influence bad usage of language even if one knows how to speak right (Orwell 18). George Orwell points out that writing skills in different dimensions of communication between people are necessary to become familiar with different cultures. Being an insider within a community is a reason for making discussions broader and specific. Nevertheless, following the guidelines of different styles and genres of writing and being aware of these is helpful to have youngsters write in different styles. (Jacobs 208). This is why writing skills are developed in school for students to broaden their knowledge in various forms of writing. All in all, there is no danger to lose language due to its shortening and using the inappropriate structure for making ideas connected: “Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority” (Orwell 19).
To sum up, the difference between the manners of communication used with peers and elder people in e-mailing, chatting, blogging stems from the urge for being understood correctly. In the case of parents and older people, it presupposes that understanding of a message can be achieved, when it is performed in the right manner without any biased words or abbreviations. While communicating with peers there is a higher versatile scope of words usage. For students who can understand the difference between formal and informal language and their appropriate use while communicating with others, the use of IM will not affect their language skills. However, for those who do not, there exists a chance of the informal style creeping into their academic writing. Therefore, such students should practice formal writing even when sending texts over the internet.
Orwell, George. Politics and the English Language. 1946.
Jacobs, Gloria E. ‘We Learn What We Do: Developing a Repertoire of Writing Practices in an Instant Messaging World’. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 52(3). 2008.