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December 7, 2013

A Word of Advice: Digital speak doesn't translate

In an earlier article, I wrote about the importance of conversation as a lost art, however, after holding a few conversations with some fellow youths, I felt older than I should have. 

Each generation has its own little phrases and sayings that the older ones scoff at, from gnarly to groovy, and tubular to radical, people have shaken their canes at youngsters inserting these words into their daily speech cyclically throughout the ages. 

However, sometimes a line must be drawn between the evolution of a language and the absolute devastation of it, and where does this line begin you ask? When digital text travels from type to tongue in the wrong situations. 

The most painful example of this phenomenon is the translation of not a word, but a symbol, from the land of text lingo to the sphere of spoken word.  “#,” or, hashtag, is a symbol, term type thing that came from social network Twitter and eventually spread to other networks such as Facebook and Instagram.

In the correct, online context for use the symbol is used to categorize posts/tweets by certain words or phrases, for example, a post talking about basketball may use #bulls or something of that nature to group the post with that of other fans. However, when used in speech, it’s typically just said in front of catchphrases as if verbally saying “hashtag” is supposed to signify whatever is said after it as some sort of funny catchphrase. 

For example, when somebody says “Get it son, winner winner chicken dinner!” it sounds completely normal and conveys the point of what the person is trying to say, however “Get it son, hashtag winner winner chicken dinner!” just sounds silly and even jarring. 

Other things that don’t translate to verbal language well include acronyms like LOL, IDK and ROFL. For the most part they sound improper and awkward when thrown in with words that tend to flow quite nicely when used properly, sort of like the noise of a big explosion being inserted into a symphony, and they also simply don’t make sense to people “not in the know” of what the acronyms, hashtags, or whatever else actually signify or stand for.

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