Friday, March 07, 2003

SMS language
I started to type a comment to Jill's post, but the comment boxes insist that I give them my email-address, and I hate that. OK, so I normally type in some bogus address, but even having to make up one annoys me, the things insist that I either lie or surrender. Those are not options I like.

Anyway. SMS-language and school-work.
the kids around here write SMS messages not just in text-messaging shorthand, but in dialect shorthand. The word "til", which means "to", is pronounced "te" or the same way as the letter "t" when you say the alphabeth in Norwegian. The word "me" in dialect means "with" "us" "also", and is used rather than any of the other synonyms to these words. Not being fluent in the local dialect or the local sms-dialect (I can barely read it, my daughter moderates her messages to me and her father) I can't give you the more intricate examples, but you get the drift.

I think this is a good thing, it shows a high level of consciousness as to the language they speak: they don't abandon their spoken language for the written norm of the cell-phone interface. This is a highly political issue in Norway, and the youths around here have chosen their own language over the adjusted official norm: good for them.

When this language creeps into the school-work, it is a version of rebellion. It's permitted to write in your own dialect in Norwegian. The two official languages are constantly adjusted and revised in order to give Norwegians the freedom of just about any way they want to write, as long as it will sound like a word when you read it out. SMS-laguage doesn't, though. That's why it is such a wonderful code, a secret language based on the redundancy in written language and the unspoken agreements among certain groups: a perfect secret code which others do not pick up and if they do - do not understand. We had codes like that, slang is a code like that, based on connotations and specific cultural knowledge which was shared through diffusion, not education. And when a girl writes her english essay in text-messaging language, she doesn't say: "This is how I write and my language has degenerated to the point that I don't know any other style." Her message to the teacher is: "Catch me if you can, I belong to a different group, a different generation, a different millennium than you, this is the future and you are way behind me." I don't say that she is right - but an essay like that is not an indicator of lack of communicative skill, but of rebellion. And rebellious teen-agers is hardly news...

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