Is bad typing the new accent?

| Friday, December 4, 2009
In real life we have these things called accents. What are they? By my own made-up definition they are regional of cultural variations in how words are pronounced and sometimes different grammar and word choice. In other words, since everyone has an accent, everyone is saying it ever so slightly wrong. Our grammar is hardly perfect either. This is partially because with English there is no perfect; it's too bastardized to have an ideal. And then there's word choice: bucket vs. pail and that sort of thing. I'm fortunate to be in a city in a middle area where we can hear all words and understand most, despite having our own accent and word choices.

Sometimes accents are used to distinguish status or worth. Southern accents tend to be associated with lower intellect. It makes otherwise intelligent people sound stupid, which is unfortunate. And there's often very little attempt by outsiders to distinguish the different types, so a Texan might get lumped with an Appalachian which is clearly all wrong.

But back to my point, accents may be used to tell some information about a person. Stereotypes, of course, but they aren't entirely worthless as long as the user can perceive when they are inaccurate. We classify people into Like Us and Not Like Us. Those who are like us speak in a way which we find acceptable and those who are not like us don't.

A new accent classification is emerging. It is not verbal, but written. It is the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of the internet. Who has not thought less of a person because they wrote /2 "hi can u run me thru sfk i tip u plz pst?" I might have responded to /2 "WTB run through SFK, paying Xg per run." Neither of these use proper grammar. Both fail to spell out all their words. But the latter is what I would say and it is easier for me to understand. It is more efficient as well, but in all honesty, efficiency is rarely a criteria used for judging accents. They both give the same general meaning, but the way it is said causes me to more highly judge the second phrasing.

I could say that it's because the first person is lazy. They didn't write out "you" or "through." They also didn't type out "Please Send Tell" or "Please," which would have been redundant anyway. But the second message is about the same length, compressing "Want To Buy" and "Gold." Lazy is a stereotyping explanation used in real life, even when some accents may take what feels like more effort.

Are two classes of accents forming online; those who type and those who do not? Or more accurately, those who use 'socially accepted' abbreviations and those who do not.

In related news, before I got stuck in a ticket booth, I was pointing out that someone typing deepz was spending more time and looking more ridiculous than if he'd typed DPS. Someone promptly argued that it's faster if we're talking rather than typing, apparently failing to notice that we couldn't hear him. Of course someone had to bring up that it's a game, not english class. My response, with a slight word change so it sounds better: "Life is applied English." My apologies to those who do not speak English, you can adapt it to your language. I guess they couldn't read that anyway.

For more posting about talking, try my old post on my other blog about why we should swear less and why I'm glad I'm not gay.


kaozz said...

Very interesting topic. One that bothers me to no end that you mentioned is deepz. What the hell is DEEPZ? It does not even sound cool, it sounds like something a hooker with a bundle of std's would offer.

I think this one came from vent, out of ignorance people said deeps over the mic instead of DPS. I have heard it said that way before, I also thought it sounded lame.

Most of the time things like plz, u2, or l8er I figure it's a young kid. That's just how it looks. I say it to people I know, u2 or where r u.. once in awhile, because I get lazy. Not to strangers though.

Another that bothers me, from ignorance which shows people do not know what they are saying to begin with; Please PST. PST isn't the sound Psssst! It's Please Send Tell!! If I had a penny for every time I saw this I'd be a millionaire.

Klepsacovic said...

Ah pst, I got annoyed by that not long ago!

Thistlefizz said...

I'm fascinated by language, and how people choose words to express themselves. I'm currently working on my own post about language and such, and will probably refer to your post here; it's a good post.

Also, I know I admit to my own prejudice when I see someone use numbers where letters should be or unnecessarily abbreviate words--I assume they are either a very young kid or just an idiot.

Klepsacovic said...

@Thistlefizz: Thanks, and good luck on the post. You gave me a few more ideas that I might have to write up, again.

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