1
A linguistic perspective

Will the English-dominated Internet spell the end of other tongues?

Quite e-vil: the mobile phone whisperers

A major risk for humanity

These quotations illustrate widely held anxieties about the effect of the Internet on language and languages. The first is the subheading of a magazine article on millennial issues.1 The second is the headline of an article on the rise of new forms of impoliteness in communication among people using the short messaging service on their mobile phones.2 The third is are mark from the President of France, Jacques Chirac, commenting on the impact of the Internet on language, and especially on French.3 My collection of press clippings has dozens more in similar vein, all with a focus on language. The authors are always ready to acknowledge the immense technological achievement, communicative power, and social potential of the Internet; but within a few lines their tone changes, as they express their concerns. It is a distinctive genre of worry. But unlike sociologists, political commentators, economists, and others who draw attention to the dangers of the Internet with respect to such matters as pornography, intellectual property rights, privacy, security, libel, and crime, these authors are worried primarily about linguistic issues. For them, it is language in general, and individual languages in particular, which are going to end up as Internet

____________________
1
Used in an article by Jim Erickson, 'Cyberspeak: the death of diversity', Asiaweek, 3 July 1998, 15.
2
Lydia Slater, in The Sunday Times, 30 January 2000, 10.
3
'Language and electronics: the coming global tongue', The Economist, 21 December 1996, 37.

-1-

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Language and the Internet
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - A Linguistic Perspective 1
  • 2 - The Medium of Netspeak 24
  • 3 - Finding an Identity 62
  • 4 - The Language of E-Mail 94
  • 5 - The Language of Chatgroups 129
  • 6 - The Language of Virtual Worlds 171
  • 7 - The Language of the Web 195
  • 8 - The Linguistic Future of the Internet 224
  • References 243
  • Index of Authors 253
  • Index of Topics 256
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