9/15/2007

Unwords: Words for All Affairs

I am captivated by the ways in which technology’s precipitous development has an impact on the way a lot of us communicate. Recently I was reading a great post in Notes from the Digital Frontier where one of the regular bloggers recalled his dismay while texting with a friend. He pointed out that, because his friend’s phone’s dictionary did not recognize a certain term, his friend opted to type in a different word instead. Huh. "The input method changes our communication style," he perceptively concluded. This has actually also happened to me, various times. I can’t think of a more obvious example of technology’s influence over language and communications. And then there’s Cingular’s recent advertising campaign “idk, my bff Jill,” that aside from comical, signals just how fast language is evolving. The first two TV spots from the Cingular campaign together have gotten more than a million hits on YouTube, not simply because they are funny, I suspect, but also because they ring true with a large segment of American (and global) society. If you haven’t seen the ads, click here.

Which brings me to another issue that I feel is also super-interesting: that of creating words to describe new experiences, situations, and ideas to help these become commonplace in digital media and contemporary society. Say hello to Unwords.com, the site that "makes it possible for you to share your words with the world." I’m sure a lot of English professors would be appalled with some of the words users have submitted, and many a crusty English nazi would take issue with the fact that the site simply exists. For me, however, this is as exciting as language gets. Not only is it evolving at hyper-speed, we now have digital observers documenting and fueling the phenomenon.

I believe that it is part of a writer’s job to introduce and coin new terms to describe and define emerging phenomena, especially if said writer wishes to push open societal restrictions and explore new frontiers. It creates knowledge exponentially and paves the way for others to do the same. As a society, we all benefit. Recently I was waiting to board a plane at Miami International Airport, when we were told to wait so the arriving passangers could "deplane." I’m sure the word "deplane" did not exist 50 years ago. Now we all know what this means, even though the word might not be in any dictionary (it is, by the way--as an intransitive verb). So what if other, older words start dying out too quickly? IDK, NBD, from my point of new.

1 comment:

Luisa said...

lol. loved it. ttyl.