Saying it the IM way

Express yourself Chatting online is one way to indulge in some verbal gymnastics   | Photo Credit: Photo: K. R. Deepak

A study proves that instant messaging allows young people to play with the language

Just as we collectively moan the tragic demise of English as we know it, thanks to SMS, comes the cheerful news that instant messaging or IM, represents a linguistic renaissance for teenagers. A recent study conducted by Sali Tagliamonte and Derek Denis at the University of Toronto, Canada said as much.

The study says IM allows youngsters to deploy “a robust mix of colloquial and formal language.” It also goes on to say, “far from limiting young people’s language, IM helps youth show off what they can do with the language.”

For those who came in very, very late, IM refers to the delightfully cost-effective way of staying connected online. Seventeen-year-old Daniel Samuel, says, “IM has a great impact on students. Using IM or SMS lingo doesn’t call for a conscious effort from us anymore. Since we aren’t penalised heavily for spelling errors in non-language papers, we don’t really feel the need to use the old and so called correct language.”

According to business management student Abhimannue Sreekishan, “Youth use IM not particularly to appear creative or ingenious in their use of language. It is all about convenience. It is not a deliberate attempt to show off what one can do with the language.”

Evelyn Rajeshekar, a student of journalism and literature feels, “The use of IM in today’s world represents an almost irreversible change. Nobody cares about punctuations anymore. As a student of literature, this concept often gets to me. But since language is about evolution, the only good thing about IM is that you can say what you want in your own unique way!”

Effective communication is what really matters. So as long as the message is conveyed correctly to the other party, many feel there are really no qualms or hassles about using this new-age language.

Roopa Kohli, a mother of two says, “It’s amazing what children can do with language. With IM, spellings and punctuations are sidelined but I won’t disagree that my children’s vocabulary has grown immensely.”

Her husband Madhav is of the opinion that “Language must have space for change. A good combination of formal and colloquial language is what keeps the language or dialect upbeat. And thanks to Gen X, all of us are learning to show off what we can do with the language.”

English teacher Shobha Samuel thinks, “This innovation in language has its demerits because children use this kind of language in their answer scripts. Also, if one were to write an official letter, IM cannot be of any help.”

Change is inevitable. It redefines the ideas and beliefs of people, so much so that even IM has been welcomed by most as a much expected and needed change.

Says a school principal: “IM is definitely the face of the new generation. I think as long one understands the semantics; the syntax doesn’t matter. IM makes the language terse and quick to read in an age of speed and instant consumption. Language has evolved with times and IM has become a part and parcel of the 21st Century. So it’s gr8!”