Columbia University's John McWhorter lectures on English linguistics and he, along with other linguists, are excited people these days. That is good because I would hate to think of them being bored.
It seems that texting is changing, not just within social communications circles, but it is changing the English language, and our culture. Many articles profess that texting is already dying out and in many ways that is true. It is however being used more frequently and more elaborately in smaller cultural circles than ever before.
McWhorter and others believe it is part of a major communications change in our verbal language. It is not the first time technology has generated linguistic excitement.
President Abraham Lincoln's use of the telegraph has been studied a great deal. He was a major driver in turning telexes from simple reports or commands into a social communications tool.
Lincoln sent messages to generals, mothers of soldiers, other politicians and most importantly to the press. In those messages he remarked on his feelings, and opinions while trying to persuade the recipients to his point of view.
His use of the innovation is now considered as a major catalyst in how telegraph information was disseminated and that resulted in changes to our language.
This was in a time when the norm was to write down a detailed speech then read it verbatim to an audience. Copies were provided to the press and often published intact.
The Gettysburg Address was done that way.
Today, written copies of the famous address abound while there is not a single photo of Lincoln actually giving the address that survives. You learned the address through copies in a textbook.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the technologies of radio and to some degree film in the same way. He injected his thoughts and feelings into the broadcast of his fireside chats.
The Pearl Harbor "Day of Infamy" speech echoed across a shocked nation and while movies exist of that speech the sounds of the words he spoke that day is etched into every Americans mind.
Have you ever read his entire "Day of Infamy" speech? That is doubtful, but you can hear him speaking those words even today. It was a brilliant use of innovation, and radio changed not just our language but our communications culture.
President John F. Kennedy did it with television.
You may be old enough to remember the Kennedy/ Richard Nixon debates that aired in the early 1960s.
Kennedy won the day because he was attractive, poised, calm and impeccably dressed. Nixon on the other hand was sweating, nervous and looked old. Does anyone remember one word of what either man said during those debates? We were focused then as we remain today on the images. The language was irrelevant to the message.
Texting has morphed into a dialectic used less for mass communications and more for discussions within close knit groups.
The group may be teenage friends, a project team or a family scattered across a city. They text within the known context of their group. Others can read their communications and they are as difficult to understand as a native Georgian trying to talk to a person from the Bronx.
To many people texting was considered just email short hand. As such, texting has proven very ineffective and more efficient means of communications are surfacing. Where it has found growth is within small cultural circles that use it as their own English dialectic.
The texting term LOL can take on a number of different meanings that can only be understood if you are aware of the context under which the texter used the word.
Linguists seem to believe texting has become language, while email follows the more traditional path of written language.
This appears to be the case in English, Russian and Spanish. So if you continue to text you are becoming bi-dialectic and that is exciting people that study our language.
Aren't you glad you are helping our language through its next innovative metamorphosis?
Charlie Auvermann is a longtime Dawson County resident and former editor of the Dawson Community News. He is also the executive director of the local development authority.