From Hashtags to Dictionaries: Tracing the Journey of Internet Slang

From Hashtags to Dictionaries: Tracing the Journey of Internet Slang

From Hashtags to Dictionaries: Tracing the Journey of Internet Slang

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The rise of the digital age, fuelled by the ubiquitous internet, has given birth to a colloquial dialect that’s swiftly finding its place in our everyday conversations — internet slang. Once confined to niche communities, the reach of internet slang has broadened, superseding borders and infiltrating numerous facets of communication, including digital marketing. Our continuous interaction with this virtual jargon has the potential to influence overall language development. By understanding its genesis, spread, and impact, we can better navigate the linguistic tide of the internet.

A primary catalyst of this fast-paced linguistic transformation is the internet. Every tweet, post, comment or share ushers in new words or phrases that quickly gain acceptance due to the speed and scope of internet communication. Accelerated language change, a phenomenon traditionally occurring over centuries, is now a possibility within a decade or less, thanks to the internet.

To unravel how slang spreads on the internet, linguists and anthropologists are monitoring these changes. For instance, Professor Jacob Eisenstein from the Georgia Institute of Technology extensively examined tweets to map the movement and influence of slang words. His insightful study disclosed the extent to which slang words ripple through different geographical locations, morphing the local language fabric.

This diffusion of internet slang isn’t confined only to English speaking parts of the world. It presents a multi-cultural panorama with nations such as Ukraine, France, Thailand, and Sweden witnessing the impact of internet slang on their respective languages too. Emojis, once a fun and quirky accessory to our messages, have evolved significantly. These graphical symbols have emerged as a universal language, effortlessly conveying sentiments irrespective of the viewer’s native tongue.

To provide a clearer understanding, a table comprising of 81 commonly used internet slang words has been meticulously compiled. Each word is accompanied by its precise definition, aiding in a better grasping of this new-age lexicon.

However, the journey of a slang word doesn’t end with popular usage. It carries on to gradually gain legitimacy and inclusion in dictionaries. Words like ‘selfie’, ‘troll’, or ‘clickbait’ which originated as social media jargon have found their rightful place in conventional dictionaries such as Oxford and Merriam-Webster. Dictionary boards painstakingly sift through an array of these words, selecting those with consistent usage over time and across various sources, thereby endorsing their official status and permanence in the language.

In conclusion, linguistic changes, more significantly the origin of slang words, and their adaptation into mainstream language have always been a natural process. But, the advent of the internet has accelerated this transformation, propelling language trends at an unprecedented speed. To effectively engage respondents or target audiences, it becomes crucial to understand and adopt this rapidly metamorphosing internet communication.

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Casey Jones
8 months ago

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