I spend quite a lot of time on the internet, and on my virtual travels have come across a few articles about the use and abuse of the English language online, and varying opinions about it. I began to consider the way I use English and my reactions to what I encounter on my virtual travels, and thought today I’d write a bit about my thoughts and findings.

On the one hand, it seems I’m a stickler for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Some people use text speak online, but I don’t understand the point of using ‘2’, ‘u/ur’,‘gr8’ instead of ‘to/too’, ‘you/you’re/your’, ‘great’ in online posts, because even if someone is on the internet on their phone, they are most definitely using a phone which has a proper keyboard, so why not use real words? What you write online and how you write it is a presentation of yourself to everyone who can read it, and by reducing the English language to a hurried mishmash of letters and numbers, I get the impression that someone writing in text speak doesn’t care about their message or its intended audience. So I tend to skip things that I come across if they’re written in text speak, because I like reading whole words in proper sentences.

On the other hand, there also exists a variation of online English called LOLSpeak, which I quite like. LOLSpeak takes conventional spelling and grammar, chews it up a bit and spits it back out into a new set of conventions. The premise behind it is writing as if you were a cat or other animal, and it usually appears in the form of captions on photos (image macros), but I’m sure there are also forums where people use it extensively in conversation. Pretending to be an animal trying to communicate in English may be a silly excuse for thwarting traditional rules, but for some reason I can tolerate silliness better than perceived laziness. You need to know the rules of the English language in order to play with them, and a certain amount of effort is involved on the part of the writer to create something understandable but effective. So while I wouldn’t read a whole article written in LOLSpeak, I welcome its existence, and unlike text speak, I do actually use it myself sometimes, because I’m wild like that.

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Ultimately, my attitudes reflect my expectations and what I want to get out of an online exchange. I realise that some people might be happy having entire conversations in text speak, and may not even know what LOLSpeak is – like many things, language use online is a matter of preference, and is also influenced by your background, interests, peer groups, and so on.

The same principles apply to translation: sometimes a certain style or way of addressing someone is entirely inappropriate for the target audience, depending on their cultural and linguistic expectations. If a text is translated without the audience in mind, it could provoke the same reaction from them as an English article written in text speak would from me. The message would be lost merely due to the way in which it has been delivered.

At Lingua Translations, we have procedures in place to make sure this doesn’t happen, so you can be sure your texts will always have the desired effect. Ur trnsltns wil b gr8! You can has gud translashuns!