Internet use represents a cultural shift in communication patterns. The mere fact that this website exists with an abundant number of articles and topics is indicative of this new association with writing. Writing is no longer an exclusively formal endeavor. As certain speech usage is applicable to different situations, so too has writing become scenario dependent. The web is not compromising the ability of children to understand and utilize the rules of grammar.
Internet writing is rapidly developing it’s own dialect. This dialect may bleed to and from the use of text messaging, but provided a child reads books and is taught grammar and spelling in school the Internet dialect need not impact formal writing. The purpose of this dialect is to mimic speech patterns, and to express oneself in a quick, yet direct way. There is no secret that we do not speak as we write. Nor should we. There are instances where grammatically inaccurate sentences convey meaning in a way that the proper phrasing never can. So if a person is attempting to communicate online in a means that provides a true one-on-one connection it makes sense to mimic speech.
The seriousness of an online site, such as a blog, can then be determined based on presentation. If a person blogs using the electronic dialect (for want of a better term), the blog is intended far more casually than is a similar blog using complete, grammatical sentence structure. The aim of the author is different, and so the authority given the writer of each scenario corresponds to their use if the language. It does not follow that because a person uses ppl or ttyl or lol or botches the spelling of particular words that they are incapable of formal writing.
Naturally that distinction does become one of formal and informal. Again, when a person is teaching a class, or giving a speech, or attempting to build any sort of authority a person is going to use formal speech. If that same person is hanging out with their friends at a bar or cafe, a whole different set of vocabulary and sentence structure will be used. The degree to which writing and and reading are being used to communicate in modern society has no prior parallel, unless perhaps the Gutenberg Press.
Before the printing press, there were no strict written grammatical rules. The need to homogenize language came after the advent of the mass market book. Not that individuals stopped there, Latin rules were then incorporated into English by the Renaissance writers, as Latin had more prestige than Germanic languages. Other than a concerted effort to differentiate American English from British English by the writers of American dictionaries, there has been a greater linguistic stagnation in the literate world than ever before. We are losing languages, rather than gaining languages. Even regional dialects, such as the Northern Californian hella finds itself into a popular song by No Doubt, and enters the spoken dialect of a wider region.
Suddenly, with writing being the main focus of communication and a cultural view of authority linked to the written word, writing changes. Our nation was founded with much action, but also the Declaration of Independence. The constitution, Law; these are composed of words. Even in education we learn from text books. The purpose of formal writing and the authority given it is then attached to its use in our society. We can’t use formal writing to convey the same meaning as Hey, ‘sup? Nor would we have considered writing a note with such words before the electronic age.
Our wording in correct juxtaposition conveys personality in a means only those who have known us in other contexts can understand. The use of formal language with electronic communication (forums and instant messaging) can even cause problems. On forums, if j/k is not included then the intent of the author might not be discernible. Should that same author not use complete sentences, or follow grammar rules, the j/k may or may not be needed. How seriously can a person take someone else who isn’t writing formally?
Keeping communication casual online is essential to comfortable communication. Moving from formal to informal writing is akin to moving from formal to informal speech. As long as educators do not expect the Internet to teach children to read, there is no reason why a person cannot learn to textually code switch.