The Language of Social Media – Abbreviations

Social media is having a significant impact on the English language. I recently read a post from fellow blogger, Ben Zimmer, who provided some very useful information on this topic. I will borrow heavily from his post entitled: The Language of Social Media: “Unlike” Any Other.

There appears to be a fair amount of hand-wringing concerning the damage being done to the English Language as a by product of new modes of communication; from text-messaging to social media. Some of the comments I received from my posts have echoed these concerns. However, if it is not the Renaissance adding 1,000s of words to the language, its the Great Plague melding languages. Change happens, and in a world where the rate of change is increasing rapidly, changes to our language are going to seem alarming.

The first thing many people think of is the use of abbreviations like “LOL” (laughing out loud) or “U” (you) popularized in text-messaging and instant-messaging. Or they might think of those goofy emoticons 😉 that show up in communication from even serious people.

I discovered that I am a bit of a holdover from the early days of email. At one time, people abbreviated things like “IMHO” (in my humble opinion) or “TTYL” (talk to you later). When I use these “old school” abbreviations,  I am frequently met with confusion. I assume that they have gone the way of the 300 Baud modem and will not make it into the lexicon of common abbreviations.

To my surprise, even “LOL” has morphed into “LAWL” which has a variety of meanings. It can either mean “Laughing A Whole Lot” or it can represent the way “LOL” would sound if it were pronounced as a word rather than an abbreviation.

Abbreviations become words in popular usage. When someone says “ASAP,” PDQ,” “SOS” or “VIP” you probably don’t even translate the letters into the long version (“As Soon As Possible” etc.) They are the functional equivalent of the words they substituted for.

But what about the words that have be introduced into English by popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook? I will get into a whole list of “tw” words associated with Twitter in my next post.

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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About jamessnider

James Snider is the Vice President of Business Development for Engstrom Trading, LLC. Engstrom imports products from Scandinavian countries and builds a market for them in the USA and Canada. View all posts by jamessnider

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