Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wrath of the grammarbot

Yesterday's Independent features a story about grammar rage on the net which is well worth looking at if you're studying language change, technology and/or attitudes to change.

Outraged at the apparent upsurge in grammar errors on the web, grammar nerds have programmed deadly (ish) attack bots to roam the Twittersphere looking for mistakes and immediately punishing them with sarcastic replies. Basic homophone errors like their/there, your/you're and where/were are the prime targets, but others are facing the wrath of the grammarbot too, like the overuse of CAPS LOCK or the misspelling of sneak peek as sneak peak.

But are Twitter and other forms of digital communication making us worser and worser with are grammer and spelling? Apparently not, if recent linguistic research is to be believed.

In fact, (Tim) Stowell says there is no evidence that any form of "specialized speech" has corrupted spoken or written English, and plenty of recent studies have come to the same conclusion. In September, researchers at Coventry University in Britain ruled that there's no link between text-message conventions, which are also used on Twitter, and bad spelling or grammar in other forums. A 2009 study from the University of Alberta concluded that text-speak should be viewed as a dialect that people can switch into and out of.
Others disagree - sometimes quite violently - and the whole debate is one that we look at when we study the Language Discourses part of ENGA3. There are masses of posts about this very topic here on the blog, so have a look and fill you're boots.

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