Linguistics, the Internet +David Crystal

1953 Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon(translation key at bottom of post)

Anyone who is any1 in the 'sphere of English Language Teaching or in the outer 'verse of Applied Linguistics knows hu Prof David Crystal is... and in hushed tones he is revered as, well, god-like.

However, with the gr8st respkt,

xme cuz:

I must ?4u... 

why izit valid 4 1 2 write bout a medium 1 doesn't ackuli particip8 in...

@TEOTD, 1DR what cd b sincerely Z ina bk by some1 not in this medium?

I mean... cmon, u no all those things that go on in ur head when u r sendng-out a twt, the uncountable microseconds of deep-thinking-soaked-in-shallow-thinking accompanying de process  when u hit the red -numbers (red on HootSuite) + u hav 2 shorten de twt bk2 140...   (Not on FB status upd8s tho').

How izit poss 4 1 2 sincerely analyze alladat linguistically if 1 isn't actually there, u no, on Twitter, via the various different web clients, suffering w/ those decisions - - by jes rdng tweets??  Na.

After all, if hz lkg @ or 4 rules chng or not.... or, let's go so far as 2 say, if hz searching 4 de very grammar of it all & chkng all de lexical decisions we r mkg whn communic8ng, how can he possbli valid8 them?  2 talk about this, 12nt 1 really hav 2 understand what 1 is tlkng about?

U hav 2 spk Spanish 2 discuss Spanish, Russian 2 write bout Russian? Rite?  If the linguist has no personal need 2 communic8 in the lizt poss amt of charaktrs via SMS, how can he comment or understand the adoption of certain acronyms but not others: + globally?

The decision of which 2 cut iz ultimately up2 each individual.   A mix of wot 1 cz othr ppl dng + the cost of de mobile/cell provider's rate and specs.


1DR, I do,  iz all this the start of a new Eng.?   It wd b interesting 2 kno.  But frm some1 who knos. some1 on the grnd flr.   Some1 hu feels the lang.


.02, WDYT?

R u tchng txtspk 2 ur ELLs?


Useful links:
13mins Video lecture on internet linguistics with David Crystal
Review of Txtng the gr8 db8
David Crystal's Blog

jes de important 1z: 

.02 = my two cents
1 = one
12t =doesn't
140 = refers to the number of characters you can write in a tweet
1DR = I wonder
8 (used to shorten anything that ends with an "eight" sound e.g. w8 =wait, appreci8=appreciate)
 ?4u = I ask you
@TEOTD = at the end of the day
DHNWHTB = does he know what he is talking about
IztU? = is it you?
WDYT = what do you think?
xme = excuse me
Z = said

p.s the pix a joke, alright...

11 Responses to “Linguistics, the Internet +David Crystal”

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    James Taylor says:
    February 09, 2011

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • James Taylor says:
    February 09, 2011

    Ahh, all this text speak is hurting my brain, and it can only mean one thing, I'm getting old!

    I would teach text speech, but only to make them aware of it and it's increasing influence, just as I would make them aware of 'innit'. I wouldn't ask them to use it though, as it would seem terribly forced and unnatural.


  • Anne says:
    February 13, 2011

    Can't really agree. I loved txting: the gr8 db8 especially for the poetry it refered to. The book introduced me to this beauty, which bowled me over:
    I think appreciation is as valid a reason to write a book as personal involvement.

    February 13, 2011

    Ta, that's fair enough and will have a look at the poem. But would you say the same thing about Russian or Italian?

  • d says:
    February 13, 2011

    the '12t' is REALLY REALLY a joke, right? how many people using txt-spk also have the word 'dozen' within easy reach in the cupboard of their mental lexicon? (though yes, ok, I accept there are different communities using this language - not just teenagers)

    I think your question is one posed by lots of sociologists, sociolinguists, ethnographers... to what extent do you need to be part of a community to study/write about it?
    you make the comparison with other living languages, and I definitely agree with you to some extent.
    if the researcher can't make become an accepted member of that language community, how can they know that their inferences are valid? can you validly study a language practice only by observation?

    for example (and I hope hope hope that I've taken you the right way here - though I don't know you that well, I'm going to credit you with this much!), an 'authentic' member of this txt-spk community would not write the post you just did. if a researcher misinterpreted your 'crossing' (sociolinguistics term for code-switching when it is 'the use of a language by speakers to which it does not belong - see Rampton, 1989) as 'code-mixing' or even the full-on dialect of txt-spk, we could maybe say that they didn't really understand their subject area at all. being a part of this speech community themselves surely plays a large part in developing this sensitivity. but maybe not. maybe the research can develop this knowledge and sensitivity simply by observation and analysis.

    Anthropologists study remote tribes. They spend as much time with them as possible, and, as far as I know, try to integrate with them as much as possible.
    However, they don't, as far as I know, usually go as far as dressing up in traditional costume, taking a wife and starting a family. (Sorry, I realise I'm maybe getting off the point here - into culture rather than just language practice! I'll try and steer this back!) Do they know the native language? - Fairly well, they say. Do they speak it at C1 level? - How would we know?
    And yet, do they make inferences based on this incomplete knowledge, which may be disproved later? As far as I know, yes. That's how science (even social and language sciences) goes.

    So, basically, I'm totally with you Karenne, though see where Crystal might feel his validity comes from too!

    Are you sure Crystal doesn't communicate in this way?
    I have no idea.

    But I was also (after the way everyone speaks about him!) slightly underwhelmed by what I've heard come of of 'Txtng: the gr8 db8'.
    I fully admit that I haven't read it.

    Spend money? On a book about texting? ; )


    February 13, 2011

    Caught, d.

    Fully was taking the piss with the 12t. Wanted to see if I'd get caught. A lot on the list above I made up although a lot I got out of Webopedia too.

    Tho' I confess to kinda liking it. I'm really not so much a texter as a tweeter to be honest... oddly in the last couple of years (call it a problem of Smartphones and internet access) I hardly use the phone

    I think what I really wanted to say or explore is that textspeak and twitter-speak are so very in the moment of communic8tng... and really so very much non-rule driven - in the case of twitter, decisions are really just made up on the spot to fit in with the 140 character demand... which I suppose is why someone like Crystal would try to make sure it didn't all go Babel on us.

    I do think all this is going to have a long-term affect on English, just not sure what, and I'm not a linguist. Still I'd feel ever so much more secure if the linguists who are studying the affect on our language actually did physically hang out with the tribe.

    And yea, re Crystal, he's not on Twitter and sure, obviously he doesn't have to find a wife there, eat cow's stomachs or even sit down to have a coffee with us to see how we're shortening our words or how we manage to say the most in the least possible characters... we're not a long plane ride away and being filmed for National Geographic, having potentially written

    "ah, you see, she changes her avatar, a word referring to her digital identity, approximately every three months indicating a strong connection to the winds of the sahara... therefore I see a strong connection to the Arabic language"

    ya kno'


    p.s. Ta for popping by, really enjoyed reading your stream-of-conscious and for catching me out on doesn't!

    February 13, 2011

    Hi James,

    That's an interesting point you've made that you would make them aware of innit but not ask them to use it. I think I can along with that. It always sounds really odd to me when I hear German pop stars talking in cockney or Georgia slang...


  • d says:
    February 13, 2011

    good good.
    I often see in these 'txt dictionary'-type things a lot of words I have NEVER heard anyone use, would not be able to work out in context, and for which I would love to see some corpus-based proof that they aren't just some in-joke!

    I think it's important to remember (not saying that you or Crystal had forgotten, but just wanted to bring it up) that effective communication is primary. However frustrating the twitter character limit is, all the bite of that abbreviated post is going to be lost if no one understands it. Similarly, not too much point saving 15c by squishing into one sms if you have to send another to re-explain half of it. Even in the split-seconds that the choices get made, this must still be a factor.

    so, if you'll allow me...
    can we have a look at your examples? I'll try and guess which ones you made up (though I'm putting Webopedia in the category of the 'txt dictionary' mentioned above!), and we can see what we learn about rules...

    .02 : I've definitely seen this! but usually 'my 0.02' rather than on its own. just .02 seems weird.
    1 : same thing as for 12t with the register! understandable, though..
    12t : I didn't get this at all before I saw the dictionary.
    1DR : standard
    8 : standard
    ?4u : didn't get this! think it's possible, though unlikely. unusual to see logogram/homophone mix.
    @TEOTD : I thought, who is this person on twitter you're talking about?! imagine this is standard, though, from the type of phrase it is. like wtf and btw.
    DHNWHTB : lol.
    IztU? = really like this one! works well! but think the fact that it's not too common a phrase might hinder its adoption into the dialect.
    WDYT : like @TEOTD, not heard this one but imagine it could be standard. unlike @TEOTD, think I could work it out from context clues.
    xme : again, no problem getting it from context clues, seems possible and useful.

    ok! not sure what this tells us...

    February 14, 2011

    It tells us that u're a linguist... and that quite possibly...u're the linguist. :-) and if not, still some1 who knows what he's talking about!

    Anyway, very much agree that language is about communication first and foremost however don't you think that it's also about context?

    I've often found that we can determine the meanings of words in an entirely new language that we're learning or are now up to B1, simply because we know the rest of the words used in that language surrounding the one we don't know...

    So if I saw "12t" being really used (it does have a nice poetry about it in a way) it wouldn't make sense at all unless I already understood the remainder of the SMS/Tweet - however if I knew the person tweeting rather well and knew the context in she was writing in and why she'd shortened her message - and that the only possible word which would fit was doesn't then I'd infer the meaning. And while inferring the meaning, I'd tuck it in my mental database for a time when I needed to do the same.

    Which reminds me of how much in language and communication it all comes down to the fact that we copy each other - or even copy those we respect most - I mean that's what language is, isn't it? Just mimicry... of other people's words whether they're our parents or our peers and alongwith that we grab the grammatical rules and adopt to these in order to create meaning for others who will copy us?

    Philosphical I suppose... but back to the list -

    LOL on the @TEOTD, yes, that was a webopedia listing, and it couldn't be a twitter ID because that would be @teotd... rule being that most handles are in lowercase! (See even I can pick up the rules)

    :-) yes... um...very, very much more than I do.

    IztU - giggled my way thru that one - I like it too, again the poetry...

    Thnx for coming back, you made my evening, getting me thinking like this!

  • Brad Patterson says:
    February 14, 2011

    thoroughly enjoyed the post and following the comments by you and d.


  • Ty Kendall says:
    March 04, 2011

    I just want to make a generic point about David Crystal...i think he's overrated.
    I went to see him do a series of talks in London not too long ago, of which txting was one of them. He didn't really say anything that was particulary mind-blowing. It was all pretty obvious stuff.
    He's a competent public speaker and quite funny at times too but i just found myself....uninspired.
    He was also somewhat snobbish and elitist to one of our group, which did nothing to endear him to me on a personal level.
    I just cringe when I hear people lump him in the same category as Chomsky.
    As someone else said to me once, "he has his finger in too many pies". Basically he comments on everything but specialises in nothing.
    I don't want to detract from his accomplishments or capabilities as a linguist, but I do not believe he is deserving of the god-like status as you mention (which unfortunately he does have).


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