Language Interference

As most people my age, I own a smartphone. And more specifically a smartphone which includes emoticons in its keyboard. As most people my age, especially as an exchange student, I have to text my parents on a regular basis to tell them how wonderful the weather is here in New Hampshire (which is not even a joke anymore!), or how different the food is here and how many pounds I have been gaining. But, as most people my age again, I have parents that own a normal phone, a phone that does not have any emoticon in it and – worse – that translates the emoticons that people sent them by approximately this : ∅∇¤∗ÕΔØ

Texting without using them was then a NECESSITY.

Just like foreigners arriving in a new country, I had to adapt to this old-fashion way of texting used by every single older relatives that I have. And the numerous misunderstandings that I have been facing just made me realize that texting without any emoticon is actually harder than I thought.

Emoji have made us lazy and have even replaced, at some point, not only words but also punctuations. Thus, to me (and I think most of my generation is in the same case) a simple “Ok” without any smiley face sounds rude or cold. In the same way, an “Ok!” would either sound very enthusiastic or very sarcastic. This is actually very stupid and I think that we can only blame ourselves. Now that we have the opportunity to add those little faces, we just put them everywhere because it makes the message easier to understand. We have the choice between a hundred of different faces, which means that we can express a hundred of different emotions and make our text sound either funny, sad, over-dramatic, sarcastic and so on. Actually, we tend to use them as substitutes to normal punctuations or extra words that we would normally use to precise our thoughts. The problem of this is that when we need to go back to traditional writing (writing for academic purposes for example, or, just like me, to text people that cannot even read them), we don’t even know how to convey our meaning anymore. Who has never been tempted to put a little “ 🙂 “at the end of a sentence in an essay? We have been so used to them that, in a way, we have forgotten how to use punctuation marks and how to exploit the richness of our own language.

This isn’t a blog post about how harmful technology is or how texting makes young people bad at writing and I don’t think any of assumptions is true. Nevertheless I agree that it is affecting the way we write because our brain makes less effort to find the right word or the right nuance. Clicking on a smiley face is so much easier…

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