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Sociolinguistics is the study of
language in society; this language can characterize the standard of
living, ethnic origin, cultural level, profession, etc. It describes
the different varieties that exist in the same speech community. The
concept of speech community is generally considered as a set of
individuals using the same linguistic tool (language or dialect) for
a communicative purpose. Such a definition then implies a
geographical and / or social identification of these language
communities. The French, for example, form a speech community
perfectly distinct from German or English people because of the
geographical localisation of their country, but also, and especially
by their language.
According to the definition of the
Oxford dictionary, sociolinguistic1
is :’The study of language in relation to social factors,
including differences of regional, class, and occupational dialect,
gender differences, and bilingualism.’
But to William Labov for example,
sociolinguistic is linguistic, in other words the study of the
structure and evolution of the language, whether from a phonological,
morphological, syntactic or semantic point of view, but considered
within the social context formed by the speech community.
Sociolinguistics is the linguistics of speech, the one that supports
language phenomenon, it is that which places its object in the
social, everyday, political, action and interaction …

My main focus will be on slang, then I
will have a look onto social medias and short messages sent (SMS)
that are according to me related and have an influence on the
society.

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To begin, slang is no longer a recent
study, there are many studies from various disciplines such as urban
sociology, educational sciences, sociolinguistics, … etc. Their
interest is to analyze, describe, and examine the specificity of the
social and linguistic practices of young people including “dialect”
as a way of expression. I found a short definition of it2
: ‘Slang is a type of language consisting of words and phrases that
are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than
writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or
group of people.’
This linguistic variety that young
people adopted has developed through the influence of globalization
and also with the spread of the media, especially the new means of
communication: SMS, internet etc… Thus, several terms and
expressions end up entering standard English not only thanks to
songs, comics or cinema but also thanks to dictionaries. Young people
develop among themselves a particular speech, some words of this
speech are ephemeral, others remain in the young environment, opaque,
fuzzy and incomprehensible for adults and others cross the
generational barriers to express their identity: it aims to
distinguish oneself. Like the way you dress, the way you speak is a
mark of distinction. As a result, when certain expressions spread
widely and become common, they are replaced by others. They want an
identity separate from that of the previous generation. According to
a French sociologist Alain Degenne, which researches focus on –
social medias – it is: “a set of individuals between which
certain codes, rules, symbols work and more generally a system of
inter recognition; the members of this social circle recognize
themselves through behaviors, practices which manifest their
belonging to this circle “. In fact, slang is a form of language
used in a particular social group or as a sign of belonging or the
desire to belong to this social group: the vernacular language is
rural and used for rural activities, it is not an official language;
the popular speech is neutral and can be used in all circumstances;
Higher class speech is a sign of a certain level of education or
culture, contrary to popular speech. Each of these dialects have
terms and syntactic rules which are peculiar to themselves. It
manifests itself as a linguistic and social phenomenon. Slang can
also be defined as any language, oral or written practice specific to
young people from different social backgrounds; used to communicate
in a coded way based on concepts which someone who is not truly aware
of, would not be able to decode.

It is the language of communication for
all young people seeking speech legitimacy through the creation of a
particular mode of expression characterized by peculiarities in the
articulation of certain vowels and consonants, a tonic change of
sentences, the massive use of borrowing, lexical creativity and
finally by the use of old fashioned techniques. Slang amuses and
fascinates with its inventiveness, it is a space in which creativity
and multiple identities are valued. Young people take words,
verbalize them, or give them new determinations, borrow words from
other languages, reconstruct what is a normal or grammatically
correct sentence.
Young people have a strong preference,
on the one hand for borrowing words from a foreign language, on the
other hand for abbreviations, or creating metaphors. These young
people enjoy
a certain verbal autonomy, as matter of
fact come they are from different backgrounds, cities, neighborhoods,
school, high school and university to enrich day-to-day with words
and expressions their verbal repertoire. They reveal a great
potential for lexical invention, and their partial integration into
the common language. Slang marks the belonging of a group of young
people to a community or several others, thus, any young person
belonging to these groups possesses a verbal repertory composed of
various ways of speaking which more or less group together the
function of the characteristics of its social network. Today slang is
omnipresent, we even use it without noticing. Young people start from
a principle – respecting the structure of the language, in other
words: their own lexicon, their own grammar, their own intonation.
They try to find ways to renovate the words, the sounds, the
syntaxes, and the sentences formulas that do not belong to the
standard speech. Their talk clearly reflects a social and
geographical belonging; They create linguistic codes specific to
themselves and the groups they belong to, compose and renew the
vocabulary themselves by often introducing several languages, or even
varieties for a demarcative identity. They allow the language to
continue to live and develop and as long as there are young people,
the variations will never disappear.

Society has understood that no one
can go against the power of words, it is even more relevant with the
recent new forms of communication.

The 20th and 21st
centuries have seen a lot of changes with the apparition of mobile
phones and social medias which have consequences on our behaviour
towards communication, including SMS communication. SMS have created
a new language form that is different from the one
used in traditional written genres.
Although recent in use, SMS have had a dazzling success. This type of
texts have generated new practices and uncommon written modalities.
Intended for relatives or friends, written in the moment, these texts
are characterized by a net relaxation with respect to the
orthographic standard, also by multiple misappropriations of the
conventional use of alphabetic characters and a very strong graphical
variation of lexical forms. SMS are a trend and young people have
quickly adopted it because they are the most productive as to the
enrichment of the language. They use their imagination to produce a
new language, derive British vocabulary from its actual purpose. SMS
is practical, fun, spontaneous and distanced at the same time,
discreet and confidential, fast, momentary and above all inexpensive
compared to a phone call, it can deliver the maximum of information,
ideas, sensations, using as few characters as possible, hence a
linguistic economy.
SMS have become the best way of
communication by young people and even preferred over the calls by
the majority. It creates new interpersonal relationships and
maintains existing and familiar relationships. Writing an SMS is a
sign of belonging to a generational group, its codes, a means of
transgressing the social norm and a tool of socialization now the
exchange between friends. It is probably for these reasons that
sending and receiving an SMS meets such a success. Young people want
to renew, simplify and rewrite the language that is born from the fun
scenarios, kidding and “killing time”. To write messages,
they no longer need to resort to a perfect English. They use their
imagination to create a new vocabulary derived from their mother
tongue. Young people send text messages to express their emotions
with emoticons like “:)” or acronyms like “LoL”
(laughing out loud), they shorten the words, invent new ones and use
the onomatopoeia of the comics. The language of young people is no
longer purely oral: a written form has developed alongside new modes
of communication. Young people juggle relatively easily with
different writing styles. Digital media would therefore have no
influence on their writing skills. SMS messages have no impact on
their spelling skills or their way of expressing themselves. We are
witnessing an evolution of innovation and creativity in the language
because the change in language standards can even help young people
to forge an identity who are constantly looking for new vocabulary by
giving words meaning, a signification or even a different intonation.
Although SMS was not the best way to
communicate. If we look a few decades before, we can see that
messages are alike that of the telegram that was invented at the end
of the 19th century. Both are qualified by their brevity, often used
to make an appointment or for urgent messages .Finally it is not
really strange that we find in these telegrams a kind of SMS
language, a language reduced to a minimum to save space and time. The
main people responsible for the rapid change of the language in these
last decades are the new Information and Communication Technologies
.With the dissemination of electronic communication tools: e-mail,
chat, blogs, SMS, sites web, forums, etc. humanity was witnessing a
true originality in the world of writing. This new form of
communication has refreshed the writing of young people, it is
especially sophisticated and simply fascinating; characterized by
deviance, which leaves room for intimacy, freedom even
confidentiality for one reason: saving time and space.
But how do message work ? Because
obviously ”text” language has its own particularities and
characteristics :
– One of them is to replace a
grapheme with a letter of the alphabet. The principle consists in a
sound representation of the uni-syllabic words by a grapheme having
the same phonetic effect. For instance ”see you” becomes ”c u”.
-The graphic stretching is the use of
the multiplication of vowels as in “I loooooove it”,
“Yeeeees” and many other processes, they are widespread in
the different chats or SMS.
-The onomatopoeia is a word creation
by phonetic imitation of the designated being or thing. Onomatopoeia
or interjections, are usually used in the world of comics and was
based on writing, drawing and sound effects, the latter is enormously
important being described by interjections, it reflects the actual
sound effect. They are used to reflect moods, sounds or noises for
example: ” hahahaha ”.

Capital letters can be used to
express annoyance, or impatience: ” HURRY !”
Emoticons express your actual
state : happiness ? ”:-)” sadness ? ” :'(” etc…

In France teenagers use the
”verlan” which consists in turning the word the other way around
for example ”violent” turns into ”lentvio” (meaning of the word
in english is ”violent”)

In this part, I dealt with the ”SMS”
to discover its spelling and to know if the different processes were
specific to this new form of written language, thus giving it a
status of new language. This technology has succeeded in such short
period of time to bring together language, culture, technology and
young people to meet and create a new common language. This
phenomenon of youth, is an evolution of language, a new version that
changes the way of writing.

Although the ”text” language is a
particular and complex language I have to point out the fact that it
is a social and creative way to express yourself. We have to keep in
mind that a speech community is a group of human beings using the
same language and share the same standards.It should also be said
that one speaker may belong to more than one speech community. Thus
slang and ”SMS” is the perfect image of a changing and constant
evolving society.

1https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sociolinguistic

2https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/slang

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