The world’s leading language experts have noted that young people are ‘fundamentally’ altering written communication based on what they perceive to be aggressive or offensive.
In particular, the use of the full stop, or period, in sentences is diminishing according to linguists because it has come to signify annoyance or offence.
“Full stops are, in my experience, very much the exception and not the norm in [young people’s] instant messages, and have a new role in signifying an abrupt or angry tone of voice,” notes Owen McArdle, a linguist at the University of Cambridge.
Fellow linguist Dr Lauren Fonteyn of Leiden University said “If you send a text message without a full stop, it’s already obvious that you’ve concluded the message. So if you add that additional marker for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be a falling intonation or negative tone.”
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Professor David Crystal says that the period is perceived as “ominous” by younger people, particularly because the use of text messaging means that the end of sentences are becoming a thing of the past. Each one now has its own text message.
The professor claims that the full stop is no longer the end of a sentence, but is now an “emotion marker.”
“You look at the internet or any instant messaging exchange – anything that is a fast dialogue taking place. People simply do not put full stops in, unless they want to make a point.” Crystal noted in his 2015 book Making a Point.
Crystal points to a 2015 Binghamton University study that found college students perceive text messages ending in a full stop as being “less sincere” than those missing one.
During the same study, researchers discovered that exclamation points had the opposite effect, making people seem more ‘sincere and engaged’.
Research leader Celia Klin noted in 2015 that “When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses and so on. People obviously can’t use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them – emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation.”
The gradual erosion of Language was predicted by George Orwell in his classic dystopia 1984.
In the novel, the all powerful Party mandates Newspeak, which focuses on diminishing vocabulary in order to control the range of thought among the general population.
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