Wednesday, February 24, 2010

H9 > H8

That lethal combination of text messaging and young people has aroused the attention of several newspapers who are running stories on what they see as the latest developments in text language/netspeak. And the latest development is - wait for it - that parents are now using lots of textspeak themselves and that the youngers are finding this horribly embarrassing and creating new ways to express themselves to keep what they're really saying under wraps. It's revolutionary stuff, err... not.

The Mirror has a story here explaining some of the new text slang and one excellent example, which I will use from now on to annoy my own children, is H9, a term that is stronger than the letter & number homophone blend H8 (Hate) because 9 is one more than 8. Gettit? It's great, just like the bit in Spinal Tap with the amp that goes up to 11:(which you can watch here if you want to) it's one louder than an amp that goes up to 10. There's a bit more here too on a web news story.

There's nothing really new about all of this: young people (and all sorts of other groups of people) will always develop new ways of talking to each other  in order to conceal their activities from those who want to listen in. Slang's history is often connected to criminality and concealment as much as it is connected with lexical innovation and fun.

The whole debate about text slang and young people's literacy skills is picked up again here on The Sun's web forums with some interesting points about celebrities and a dumb culture that doesn't appear to reward intelligence.

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