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Are we killing the language, or creating a new one?


As I've said before, we have a rule in our guild prohibiting leet speak and excessive abbreviation in guild chat. That being said, I've thought a lot about the use of abbreviations in WoW and how they are affecting the language.

This might come from my days as an English teacher, but I think of the language as a fluid, breathing thing. The formality that people used when speaking 100 years ago doesn't exist now, and I doubt we would ever hear in game "pardon me, good sir, could you wait a moment?" instead of "one sec AFK" unless we were on an RP server or feeling particularly silly.

In some ways I think the shortening of the language is a bad thing, at least for the survival of English as it currently stands. We don't type out our words, heck a lot of times we don't even use vowels anymore. Players don't seem to try to actually use words anymore. "You" becomes "u," "okay cool," has become "kk." And I have seen the abbreviation used by French players as well, so I can see that the trend toward a shorthand language in game as international.

It appears, at least from what I can see, that online communities such as WoW are affecting the course of written language, if not spoken as well. You can look at it and say the language is dying, that we're slaughtering it, or you can see it another way. I think of it in terms of dialect. There are dozens of dialects in , variations on an original language. I think what we are building is an Internet dialect, and one that I expect will push into mainstream language in the years to come. We are 8 million strong, and we have the potential for a strong influence on society as such.

Think of it less as a death, but more as a birth of something new.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves

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