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Analysis of internet slang

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Par   •  22 Février 2018  •  Thèse  •  2 506 Mots (11 Pages)  •  396 Vues

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1. Introduction

2. Analysis

a. Abbreviations and acronyms

b. New meanings of words and new vocabulary

c. Shortenings, clippings and contractions

d. Word combination

3. Conclusion

4. Reference list

5. Appendix


Internet is a relative new technology which was developed in the 60’s. It was not until the mid-90’s that his use became common for most of the population and from the 2000’s that it became an important life of modern societies.

In this essay we are going to discuss about how Internet has changed, and in fact, still changes the way people communicate and how the ‘internet Slang’ have affected the ‘real life language’. We will try to show it through a simple categorization of examples such as abbreviations, acronyms or contractions, explaining how and when they appeared, the way they were developed thanks to Internet users resulting in the consideration of “Internet Slang” as a ground-breaking way of communication in a cheaper, easier and more efficient form, adapting words, expressions, phrases, concepts, etc. generally into a shorter version of themselves, up to the point of being added to the dictionary and the daily spoken language.



It is important to note that abbreviations and acronyms are considered to be very similar, but they have a distinction. According to the website Smart Words, an abbreviation is "a shortened form of a word or phrase used mainly in writing to represent the complete form" meanwhile an acronym is "a pronounceable word formed mostly (but not always) from the initial letters of a descriptive name or title".

On the one hand, an abbreviation just shortens a word eliminating letters of the words in no specific order. That is to say, an abbreviation can be the result of the omission of letters where the speaker chooses to leave the ones that would help better the hearer or reader to understand the original word by semantic knowledge. For example, there are two abbreviations of the word “advertisement” which are “advert” and “ad”, both understandable although there are some letters missing.

On the other hand, an acronym usually takes the first letters of a phrase and results in a new word, much convenient and easy to type instead of a whole sentence. For example, it is more straightforward to write “ASAP” instead of “as soon as possible”.

Furthermore, there is a type of replacement related to abbreviations and acronyms which is the use of numbers or single letters instead of a combination of letters, syllables or words. They are based on the pronunciation of those elements replaced and they are classified in three: the word-letter replacement, the word-number replacement, the combination of both with partial replacement in a word of any of the two.

In the case of word-letter replacement, we can find some examples like “C” meaning “see”, “R” meaning “are” or “U” meaning “you” resulting in “CU” meaning “see you”. Also, examples of the word-number replacement are “2” for “too” or “to”, and “4” meaning “for”. This replacement can be partial as for example in words like “gr8” meaning “great” or “w8” meaning “wait”. The combination of both techniques results in expressions like “C U 2nit” meaning “see you tonight” or “2F4U” meaning “too fast for you”.

Acronyms as well as abbreviations are limited historically as there is no writing that documents the exact point of time when these techniques started to be used, but we can find some examples of usage that dates before the Christian era. According to History Plex, the letters “SPQR” are the abbreviation of the phrase “Senatus Populusque Romanus” that in Latin means “The Senate and People of Rome” and according to History Plex “it was first used by the Roman Senate when the nation changed into a republic sometime around 80 BCE”. Although there are many more examples we can find dating from very old times, acronyms and abbreviations became a common technique of word formation in the 20th century. Quoting from Etymonline, “their use accelerated with the U.S. space program and the Cold War, and by the time a "Dictionary of Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations" was published in 1960 it had 12,000 entries.”

Since then, they grow importance in daily life becoming more common up to the point of being one of the most used techniques in the Present-Day English, online on the Internet or through the phone. Their use increased specially in communication through SMS of payment (curiously, SMS is a word that happens to be an acronym of short message service) some years ago, but the instant messaging services and the social networks used nowadays are of free usage, what means that the users are not using this features in order to save money but to save characters limitation, time or to communicate quicker.


Another important category in the field of internet vocabulary is the emergence of new meanings of words that already existed, or the apparition of new vocabulary specifically used online. Some of these words are being accepted as part of the English vocabulary thanks to the addition of the words in dictionaries like the Oxford Dictionary Online. In this section, some important and interesting examples of both phenomenons are going to be shown and explained, using quotations of the entries in the The Oxford Dictionary Online.

On the one hand, the emergence of new meanings to already-existent words is caused by their use in specific contexts of the Internet that causes their meaning to vary. Some good examples of this phenomenon are the following words:

Firstly, “cloud” is defined as “a visible mass of condensed watery vapour floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the general level of the ground” but there is another different entry in the dictionary that says that could (usually “the cloud”) is “a network of


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