The language of tweets and feeds offers a unique insight into communication within youth culture both on and offline.
Emerging linguistic conventions show an extraordinary capacity to move between animated physicality, emotion, exclamation and multiple cultural references within a limited piece of text. A flow of information that would feel somewhat schizophrenic in reality is an economical approach to self-expression and identity construction online. The use of * * to enframe a verb is a prevalent device that is strongly animated and visual. Emoticons as a purely visual signifier are used with more than a touch of irony and even parody. Use of repetition, capital letters, assonance and so on, are freely deployed to mirror accurately the inflections and idiosyncrasies of ‘real’ conversation.
The great challenge of replicating ‘voice’ and ‘presence’ within the 140 character tweet is achieved through the appropriation and subversion of narrative convention, and to great effect. By replicating conversation as it is heard and experienced, online communication has triggered an evolution of language where inflections of speech, regional accents and
cultural references are spread and blurred without the need for geographic proximity or the need for gestural reinforcement.
Online identities are increasingly constructed around language and there is a significant emphasis on the role of humour. The ability to mirror the experience of face-to-face interaction combined with the time and space for considered authorship has resulted in a strong trend for economical, well-honed witticisms and ‘banter’. More intellectual modes of humour are coming to dominate in youth culture and naturally attuned textual decoders are being created in the process. Communications that seek to authentically
interact with internet culture or the voice of youth would do well to strive for authenticity through analysis of contemporary blogs, tweets and feeds. Content saturation and easy access mean linguistic conventions are varied, quickly established and fleeting. A token, LOL or 🙂 won’t cut it.
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