Anyone who has browsed the Internet long enough knows that there are very few English teachers lurking in the shadows ready to give you a failing grade. Language is an elusive beast indeed, but negligence of punctuation and grammar can sometimes lead to the birth of new catchphrase or even a grand opus with memetic qualities.
In this article, we shall be focusing mostly on English and its respective bastardizations and evolutions. While reading, also ask yourself, why so many memes? Have the Grammar nazis of the world thrown up their flags in surrender or is the very notion of language being shaped through mass communication? Texting alone has begun to cause a crisis in the classroom. Is this a new dawn for the language of kings?
Written in FAIL
Allow us to begin with a classic instance of poor grammar and spelling from Yahoo! Answers:
User kavya is curious about the process of human reproduction but can’t quite express himself in a process some of us may be familiar with. This entry is one of the more popular examples of Yahoo! Answers fail and has even driven the creation of a flash animation courtesy of Something Awful and the Weekend Web segment:
The spread of this one query and the multiple responses teaches us something simple about the notion of language on the internet: if you fail at basic communication skills, the internet will berate you for it. The internet is mostly a textual space after all, in order to communicate properly you must be understood first.
35% of people on the internet speak English but there is really no definitive data on exactly how effective said communication is.
We also need to account for places in the world where English is not the primary language. This example being representative of Engrish, the attempts at English grammar an portrayed by the many countries in East Asia.
The percentage of internet users who are children may not necessarily have a full grasp on language yet, not to mention they are growing up in the phenomena of shorthanded expression associated with instant messaging and texting as demonstrated in the “idk my bff jill” commercial.
Alas, intentionally being bad at grammar can also be used to troll. I accidentally an example.
The Spoken Fail
There is one common thread holding these linguistic lines together as shown with “how is babby formed”, if spoken aloud you shall create comedy. These spreads are all textual, none of these are intended to be spoken. Allow me to introduce the dramatic reading of a real break up letter:
YTMND was one of the first communities to oust these kinds of errors in such a dramatic fashion. The forced sarcasm almost made it seem like a voice actor was really desperate for any kind of work at all and would read anything in front of a microphone for money. There is also no lack of fuel for this unique brand of audio expression either, particularly when you include…fanfiction. This is a rendition of what some praise as the quintessential worst fanfiction ever, My Immortal.
Everything you could ever want in a fanfiction is here: multiple varieties of sex, goth kids, sentence fragments, Harry Potter, vampires, vampire Harry Potter, and to make it complete the author also writes herself into the story. The only thing it’s missing is a Sonic the Hedgehog character cameo, but I’m sure someone will pick up the slack.
Evolution or De-evolution?
Evolutionary linguistics is the study of how language is created and developed, and as a research field has only been active for the past thirty years after a lull of research spanning over a century. So many facets exist in the field now and multiple theories could explain why we dun don’t speak good no mo. Our mental lexicon may now be prioritizing learning acronyms and frequency of use might be an alley to make language more efficient. Humans may be physically evolving to the point where we could lose the ability to speak all together and we are getting our practice in before that happens. Perhaps, we as humans could also just be reverting back to cavemen and this is just the first step back to a simpler life communicating in grunts and moans. Either way, we are moving somewhere when it comes to a language modified by the internet, at the very least we can only hope the progress is moving us horizontally.