Depending on where you were raised, distinct accents commonly develop. But with millennials who are raised on the web, is it possible to have an Internet dialect?
YouTube's PBS Idea Channel uploaded a video Wednesday exploring the way we communicate on the web. The video hypothesizes that there are commonalities between vocabulary and word choice when we write on the web, suggesting that the Internet does have a specific dialect.
"Is there some part of the Internet that I sound that I am from?" Mike Rugnetta asks.
Accents are associated with they way we speak, so it is impossible to identify the Internet's nonverbal language as an accent. However, we could have an Internet dialect depending on which sites we are writing on.
Dialects include word choice, vocabulary and how those words are arranged and used. Dialects are defined as a particular form of a language that is specific to social or regional group of people.
To explore the meaning and commonalities of dialects, Rugnetta refers to "general American," a dialect that is used across the U.S. and commonly spoken in broadcast news. "General American Internet variety" would then refer to a standard dialect of Internet English that includes common acronyms, emoticons, hastags and abbreviations.
Technology influences components of communication. Because Internet communication is fast-paced, its language can be intimidating to newcomers. Similarly, participants in a community can understand and communicate the same as others in that community. For example, Tumblr posts generally include lots of abbreviations. The types of posts--the ones that are not gifs--are often emotional and reflect the values and norms of this specific community.
Educational theorist Etienne Wegner wrote about the concept of practice, which describes people who do things together in a historical and social context that gives structure and meaning to what we do. These social practices create shared specific perceptions and worldviews.
Linguistic patterns then begin to develop. "Communities of practice: Where language, gender, and power all live," written by Penelope Eckert, professor of linguistics at Stanford University in Standford, California, hypothesizes that these communities can share linguistic aspects.
Social identity, community membership, forms of participation, community practices and linguistic form are mutually created from these communities.
Apply these community theories to the Internet and call it a speech community. In this community, there is not an emphasis on doing things, but rather a shared ideology about language, identity, membership and attitudes towards language use.
Because we participate in more than one Internet community, we use language--or a dialect--that is specific that that community. For example, language on Tumblr will different to the way we communication on Facebook. The language on Twitter differs from that of Facebook and so on.
By participating in different Internet communities, we develop specific dialects to that community.