How Social Media Is Changing Language Usage and What Marketers Need to Know About It

Some people say social media is killing our language. Their arguments are innumerable, but they mostly cite the excessive usage of undecipherable initialisms, incorrect abbreviations, and cutesy emoticons. Others believe (a much smaller population, to be sure) that social media is not ruining language, but rather simply changing the ways in which we use language to express ourselves. And, to be clear, it really shouldn’t be compared to other forms of written language because it’s not actually written. What are these unfathomable arguments? And what does it have to do with marketers? Let’s tackle the obvious question first.Is Texting Killing Language?A TED talk by linguist John McWhorter covered the language of texting, but it applies to social media, too, as the abbreviations, emoticons, and idioms bleed into social media messages. This usage in social is natural but can also be explained by our increase in mobile usage of social media apps (91 percent of mobile Internet access is for social activities versus 79 percent on desktops, according to Microsoft Tag). McWhorter states that texting isn’t really written language, but rather a form of spoken language. Spoken language is looser, telegraphic, and less reflective than written language. He calls it “fingered speech.”

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