Gregg Nunney: Why tweeting is good for our language

Tweeting and other social media is helping the English language to evolve, says Gregg
Tweeting and other social media is helping the English language to evolve, says Gregg

I read an interesting article on language last week.

It argued that social networking is gradually eating away at the minds of the younger members of our society and, as a result, they are losing the ability to communicate.

I find this somewhat of an oxymoron – how can anyone be losing the ability to communicate by communicating more than any generation has come before them?

I think sometimes that we, as adults, struggle to accept that things change – and language is one of them.

Now while I happily admit to using the acronym LOL in many a text message, I have never used it in conversation.

Say something funny to somebody under 16, however, and they are likely to respond with lol, pronounced like doll, in return.

Barefaced cheek, you may say. How lacklustre! Laughable! Well, funnily enough, in the late 1500s none of those words existed (apart from cheek – I’m pretty sure that that did).

It was only when a certain Bill Shakespeare (we’re on nickname terms) came along and decided to be liberal with the Queen’s English that they entered the language.

Before the mid-20th century it was unheard of to use cool or OK but now it’s perfectly normal.

In 100 years’ time we’ll be taking selfies, twerking and using bitcoins without a second thought.

When we were kids we used to pick up the phone and grunt at each other for five minutes.

Now, young people pick up their smartphones and think carefully about what they have to say.

They need to convey a whole message in 140 characters or less.

This so-called ‘lost’ generation is learning how to communicate in a clear and concise manner and, if it doesn’t all fit, they’re re-drafting it and trying again.

The spread of social media means we’re using the English language in a more unique and personal way than ever before, and I cannot see how that’s anything but marvellous.