Saturday, December 5, 2009

Text Speak, Net Speak, and Slang! Oh My! by Shawna Blumenschein

Recent generations have grown up with the Internet in their homes, social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter at their fingertips, and cell phones and PDAs as common accessories. It is little wonder that a shorthand developed for the digital world. Whether it is called text speak or net speak both are essentially the same thing: slang. As defined by Merriam Webster, slang is “non-standard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words…” Text speak is certainly non-standard and while some of the terminology makes sense such as “c u” for “see you”, the deeper one delves into text speak the more arbitrary the dropping of letters seems to get. Furthermore, regardless of how much sense the above example makes, that does not make it an acceptable abbreviation outside of informal situations.

There are a variety of views and definitions of slang but all professional authorities agree that the language of the internet, texting, and instant messaging has no place in the work world. Take, for example, this article from Monster or this overview of appropriate language from The OWL at Purdue. Both answer the question of whether or not it is appropriate to use slang and text speak in the professional world with an emphatic “no.” With its status as slang terminology clarified, it should become obvious that text speak is wholly inappropriate for the working world. An employee would not use terms found on sites such as Urban Dictionary and SlangSite when speaking to their boss or writing a formal proposal. Indeed, as discussed by Murriel, there is a time and place for text speak that most definitely does not include professional communications.

Getting into the habit of using text speak in one’s writing is a mistake with the potential to hinder job prospects and job retention. For those who use “c u” reflexively it is time to start breaking the habit. Standard English should be embraced, not only because it is expected but because it allows for nuance and subtly in meaning that simply does not exist in stripped down text speak.

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