Internetus speakus

I dunno if I've mentioned this before or not, but I have a sort of passion for trivia. This means that I know a very little bit (usually just enough to make a fool of myself) about a lot of things.

Thanks to this immense and shallow body of knowledge, I tend to come up with really crazy ideas at odd times: in the shower, taking out the garbage, or, today, at the tail end of my lunch break. The ideas, I'm sure, have occurred to other people before, in which case you should totally point me in the direction of further reading. My thought process is unique to me (to some degree), though, and anyway this is where I'm sure the majority of these "supplemental" posts will come from.

(Fun fact 1: the way I hear the word "supplemental" in my head is the way Captain Picard says it when he's saying "Captain's Log, supplemental." Fun fact 2: My favourite discussion of the genesis of ideas is in Edgar Allan Poe's detective story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," which I probably bring up way too often, but is awesome.)

Aaanyway, today, at the very end of my lunch break, I was reading a netiquette article on CNN by the ladies from Stuff Hipsters Hate. Be warned, because things are about to get hypocritical. Also apologies to about 80% of my readers, who've already had this conversation or one very much like it with me.

The article was about hash tags and lulz and the terrible things that the internet is doing to the English language. (Briefly. I've extrapolated a little.) This is something that really interests me, because I love the internet and I love English. I complain all the time about bad spelling and inappropriate apostrophes. On the other hand, I'm pretty fascinated by the fact that language isn't static, and that you're essentially using it properly as long as the people you're communicating with are understanding what you're saying (although that brings us around to the whole debate about whether anyone ever really understands anyone else, boo, hoo, hoo, etc.).

So of course the next thing that occurred to me, scanning the comments of a netiquette article, was Latin.

Specifically, Vulgar Latin.

Basically Vulgar Latin was what the Roman masses spoke, and I presume it was a lot less cumbersome than Classical Latin. It also gave us the Romance languages, and wow I'm not a linguist just go read the Wikipedia article.

The point here, in the whole netiquette+Latin thread of my thoughts, is that I don't think we need to be all that worried about netspeak. Already I don't think anyone would argue that spoken language and written language are exactly the same thing. Then throw in things like academic writing and professional jargon (and if you think "lol" and "wtf" are bad, holy abbreviations in the engineering profession, Batman! ... i.e. HAITEPB!) and it's all a gigantic mess. If netspeak becomes its own sort of sub-English, that's actually cooler, in my opinion, than if everyone on the internet were to suddenly start using perfect grammar and spelling.

Quick, suggestions for a name for the internet language that are better than "Vulgar English," even if that's probably the most accurate!


  1. I remember in my International Studies class in second year having to do a book review. Some people did it on a book called "Shake Hands With The Devil" by Romeo Dallaire about the Rwandan Genocide. I guess the book was semi-impossible to read because of all the acronyms.

    So really, netspeak is more efficient than some elements of the English language. Namely: acronyms.

  2. Well, I dunno. I mean, netspeak is largely acronyms, or variations on acronyms.

  3. Yes, but acronyms that are more understandable to the lay person who doesn't know every NGO in existence. And there, another acronym. (Non-Governmental Organization, bahah)