I began to wonder whether this could lead to a linguistic divide between those who speak lolspeak, and those who don’t, mirroring the digital divide which we can see in Australian society, with the poorer of less computer-literate groups of society falling behind.
Every generation has it’s slang, but this is the first generation where one form of slang has created it’s own language structure, which is written, and in turn, formalized for that group who use it. In fact, there are kids who could have been raised being exposed more to lolspeak than traditional English.
I think there is already a shift in which younger generations struggle to be as traditionally grammatically-sound as older generations, which may be due to a combination of shifting standards in education systems, combined with leisure activities which don’t necessarily rely on the written word. Will lolspeak become a language which is adopted more naturally by the iGeneration? Will this cause a barrier to communication with older generations? I think it already is on the microscale in families, but probably not on a macroscale.
But then again, the media will taunt us with the fear that young people’s vocabulary is being drastically stunted by electronic mediums (where a teenager of 16 should know 40,000 words, and, instead, only knows 800.) So maybe teens will just throw the towel in and stick with the language they know. Long live Ceiling Cat!
What do you think?
I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak
* Hat tip to the rad Kate Fenerty for the link to this!