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Instant Messaging and the Future of Language

Author: Naomi S. Baron
Organisation: American University, Washington, DC
Publish Date: 2005
Country: Global
Sector: Globalisation
Method: Foresight
Theme: ICT
Type: Article
Language: English
Tags: Computer-mediated communication, CMC, Instant messaging, IMing, Normative languages, Written English, Grammar

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) provides young users opportunities for social affinity and control over when and with whom they interact, but its long-term influence on language remains largely in the hands of parents and teachers, their traditional linguistic role models. Are email, instant messaging (IM), and text messaging on cell phones degrading the language? This question surfaces in debates among language professionals and, perhaps more important, among parents and their teenage offspring. If some traditionalists are correct, we must take swift action now, before these children are reduced to marginal literacy. But if those celebrating linguistic innovation are correct, adults should get out of the way of normal language change.
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