Language and the Internet
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In recent years, the Internet has come to dominate our lives. E-mail, instant messaging and chat are rapidly replacing conventional forms of correspondence, and the Web has become the first port of call for both information enquiry and leisure activity. How is this affecting language? There is a widespread view that as 'technospeak' comes to rule, standards will be lost. In this book, David Crystal argues the reverse: that the Internet has encouraged a dramatic expansion in the variety and creativity of language. Covering a range of Internet genres, including e-mail, chat, and the Web, this is a revealing account of how the Internet is radically changing the way we use language. This second edition has been thoroughly updated to account for more recent phenomena, with a brand new chapter on blogging and instant messaging. Engaging and accessible, it will continue to fascinate anyone who has ever used the Internet.
u ag e a n d th e i n t e r n e t range of typographic and colour variation that far exceeds the pen, the typewriter, and the early word processor, and allowing further options not available to conventional publishing, such as animated text, hypertext links, and multimedia support (sound, video, film). On the other hand, as typographers and graphic designers have repeatedly pointed out, just because a new visual language is available to everyone does not mean that everyone can use it well.
it. Also, web page designers constantly talk about the importance of ‘clear navigation’ around a page, between pages in a site, and between sites, with the aim of providing unproblematic access to sites, clear screen layouts, and smoothly functioning selection options (for searching, help, further information, etc.). But the inevitable amateurishness of many web pages (the cost of designing a high-quality website can be considerable) means that the manner maxim is repeatedly broken. In
(typically) be sorted under M and the second under Y.6 Electronic filters require exact matches. Similarly, subject lines need to be very specific, otherwise they will not be easy to retrieve at a later date: among the messages in my folder are some with the subject ‘Your message’, ‘Reply to letter’, and ‘Re: visit’, none of which are going to be helpful should occasion to search out a specific thread of messages arise. ‘Writing a subject line with real oomph’ is the heading in one usage manual,7
would not be intelligible to give this sequence of responses at the end of the message: >I hope to be there by six, though everything depends on the >trains. >Will you be coming by train yourself, or are you driving this >time? I know Fred is bringing his car. I know – remember last time? Car or at the beginning: 25 Flynn and Flynn (1998: 9). The language of e-mail 123 I know – remember last time? Car >I hope to be there by six, though everything depends on the >trains. Will you be coming
powers vs. employee rights, highlighting the existence of widely different regulations between companies and countries. See further: Thompson and Ahn (1992), Baron (1998a; 1998b; 2000: chs. 8–9). The language of e-mail 133 Because of its spontaneity, speed, privacy, and leisure value, e-mail offers the option of greater levels of informality than are found elsewhere in traditional writing. But as the medium matures, it is becoming apparent that it is not exclusively an informal medium, and