The Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters

By Mariana Coancă, Elena Museanu (University of Bucharest; Romanian-American University, Romania)

Abstract & Keywords

This paper deals with the Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters and its consequences upon the Romanian language. Nowadays, online communication keeps us alive. Lately, it has been noticed that the technological jargon and the abbreviations, used in text messages by youngsters pose a new threat to clear language. As they use a poor language, youngsters risk to be of no use to the society, they will not be able to fill in application forms, attend a job interview, write a formal letter. Linguists mentioned a teenager knows and uses only 800 words, still they do not consider the dialect a new phenomenon or a negative one, because every generation of teenagers has enriched his language, by inventing a new one, decoded only by them. The major problem is their ignorance towards the norms of the native language, by permanently using informal language, instead of formal language. With mobile phones it is so easy to slip back into text language and then suddenly you have used 'woz’ instead of 'was’, ‘2u’ instead of ‘to you’, in a formal letter without even realizing. So, can we speak about the acceptance of this dialect worldwide? What measures can be taken to preserve our languages? 

In the first part, we present some aspects about the origin of the  so-called dialect of Internet youngsters, taking into account it is different from one country to another. In the second part, we deal with the Internet dialect of the Romanian teenagers and the influence of the English language upon it.

Keywords: internet dialect, jargon, acronyms, youngsters, informal language, measures, threat, phenomenon

©inTRAlinea & Mariana Coancă, Elena Museanu (2012).
"The Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: The Translation of Dialects in Multimedia II
Edited by: Giovanni Nadiani & Chris Rundle
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/1848

1. Introduction

In order to describe the Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters, we would like to enumerate the terms used to describe the language in online communication: Weblish, netlingo, e-talk, tech-speak, wired-style, geek-speak and netspeak. We prefer to use the term Internet dialect, instead of these terms because Romanian youngsters invented their own internet language which is different from other kinds of language and it affects the native language, too.

Many sociolinguists mentioned that varieties of language turn up as people organize themselves into online communities, the so-called speech communities, where they use a special way of flavored speaking that bring people together. Sometimes, these varieties come to be used as the national language, at other times they continue to be dialects which people use at home or in their local communities [Crispin Thurlow et al. 2004: 118-128].

Furthermore, computer mediated communication depends on a wide range of contextual variables such as the type of channel being used (e.g. email or instant message), the participants (e.g. teen chatters or business colleagues) and the topic and purpose (e.g. love letter or customer complaint) [Crispin Thurlow et al. 2004: 118-128].

Nowadays, experts have witnessed a linguistic diffusion which takes place when a way of speaking is to be found into another. English is the global language of the internet and influences the way of speaking between youngsters. Netlingo has also an influence on various languages, this way youngsters break the spelling and grammar rules, but we do not blame the internet for such occurrences because we agree with Professor and linguist David Crystal: "I see chat groups as providing evidence of the remarkable linguistic versatility that exists within ordinary people – especially ordinary young people (it would seem from the surveys of Internet use). If you had said to me, a few years ago, that it was possible to have a successful conversation while disregarding the standard conventions of turn-taking, logical sequence, time ordering, and the like, I would have been totally dismissive. But the evidence is clear: millions are doing just that."

In comparison with Romanians, French people use and promote their own equivalents for certain terms (e.g. bavardage for chat and un pirate informatique for a hacker), whereas the Spanish people use the CyberSplanglish (surfeando el Web and estoy emailando) [Crispin Thurlow et al. 2004: 118-128].

We could observe the Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters in the channels of synchronous Computer Mediated Communication (online chat, instant messaging).

2. Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is a form of computer "chat" that allows one to have a real time, typed "conversation" with one or more "friends" while connected to the Internet. It is an extremely fast-growing communications medium, especially among youngsters all over the world.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a synchronous, multi-user, text-based chat technology and it was developed by Jarkko Oikarinen in 1988, a student at the University of Oahu. His purpose was to give participants the opportunity to have a synchronous communication. The IRC chat protocol was later adapted for use by Internet service providers, such as America Online (AOL) and on Web sites, where it is known as "Web chat."

Paul Gilster, author of Digital Literacy says that being digitally literate means to be able "to access networked computer resources and use them" (page 1). Furthermore, he mentions that the heart of digital literacy is "a willingness to adapt our skills to an evocative new medium" (page 12). The Romanian youngsters adapted their skills to this medium and proved to be very innovative in terms of Internet language, also being influenced by the English language, known as "lingua franca" of  the online environment. Thus, they gave birth to a national Internet language that we call Internet Dialect. Our study relies on the following questions:

  1. To what extent is the English language relevant to the Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters? Is it a threat to the Romanian language?
  2. Are they aware that this playful, humorous, informal language affects their education?
  3. Can Internet and Instant Messaging have a positive impact on students’ education?

Romanian teenagers access the Internet to chat with their friends, to read and download various materials. Most of them use as homepage the socialisation site, ¾ use emoticons and abbreviations and only a third use the nickname. While email is still present in adolescent communication, Instant Messaging is preferred. Linguists reported that a teenager knows and uses only 800 words, still they do not consider the dialect a new phenomenon or a negative one, because every generation of teenagers has enriched his language, by inventing a new one, decoded only by them.

Lately, it has been noticed by researchers that the technological jargon and the abbreviations used in text messages by the Romanian youngsters pose a new threat to clear language. As they use a poor language, Romanian youngsters risk to be unemployed, they will not be able to fill in application forms, attend a job interview and write a formal letter or an e-mail.

3. The Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters

We decided to analyse our student’s chat dialect after we noticed its presence in their homework, exam papers and their writing activities during the lessons. Our students see Instant Messaging as their main communication tool because "is not expensive, it is fun" and their Internet dialect is part of their culture, making them feel very special and innovative.

We observed and analyzed the Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters in the channels of synchronous Computer Mediated Communication (online chat, instant messaging). Thus, we gathered ten online discussions of our students. After a close analysis of their language, we would like to point out the main aspects of their Internet dialect:

  • the students’ mix of languages (English and Romanian) prevails and it gave birth to their Internet dialect. Our students use the English model of chatting in a Romanian conversation to make it more colourful, entertaining and challenging.
  • the use of acronyms and numbers: 10x ( thanks), 2day (today), l8er (later), some of them representing the initials of the words used in a sentence:

bbl          be back later,

bbs          be back soon,

brb          be right back,

np           no problem,

LOL or lol   laughing out loud,

ttyl         talk to you later;

We noticed that LOL and 10x  have the highest frequency.

  • the use of abbreviations in Romanian after the English model:

d c –de ce (why),

c f – ce faci (how are you?),

f b – foarte bine (very well),

n b – noapte bună (good night),

scz – scuze (excuse me),

npc – nu ai pentru ce (do not mention it!),

k – ca/că (that),

vb – vorbim/vorbă/vorbeşti/vorbeşte (keep in touch, speak).

  • the excessive use of punctuation marks (after the English model): omule - man!, frate - bro!, amice! – buddy.
  • the use of the argotic register represented by words like: beton, super, bestial, superb, marfă, tare de tot,  fain  – cool;
  • the constant and trendy use of  emoticons/smileys – combinations of punctuation marks and letters through which youngsters try to get the affectivity of the message.

A Microsoft researcher has rediscovered what is believed to be the first known instance of a smiley. The smiley has spawned a whole range of emoticons since its appearance on a bulletin board discussion at Carnegie Mellon University on 19 September 1982 (Yahoo News, 13 September 2002 in Crispin Thurlow et al. 2004: 118-128).

All the aspects mentioned above are noted in the following two transcripts:

chetrariu_d:  no, clientul de obicei este foarte politicos

chetrariu_d:  you are right, maybe the customers that talk to him speak that way

chetrariu_d:  but the customer who I speak with are ussulay polite

chetrariu_d:  de obicei

maria:  whom I usually speak is very polite

chetrariu_d:  Mary could you excuse me, but I have something to do at work, so maybe we can talk later

chetrariu_d:  dap.....got it

maria:  oki

chetrariu_d:  this is good pentru mine

maria:  i am online

chetrariu_d:  talking to you in english

chetrariu_d:  

chetrariu_d:  10x

maria:  the same si pentru mine

chetrariu_d:  ok see u later

chetrariu_d:  bye

maria:  a foreign lang shoul always be practised

maria:  pe curand....bye

chetrariu_d:  yes u are so right

 

ady_lucky2007:  salz all;s

maria:  ce mai faci? salve!!!

ady_lucky2007:  ce sa fac

ady_lucky2007:  acasa

ady_lucky2007:  stau

ady_lucky2007:  uh cmf

ady_lucky2007:  ????

maria:  uite scriu un articol

ady_lucky2007:  iauzi

ady_lucky2007:  interesant

maria:  asa zic si eu

maria:  e de actualitate

ady_lucky2007:  este

ady_lucky2007:  bv

ady_lucky2007:  cu rody ai mai vb

ady_lucky2007:  ?????

maria:  dap

4. Instructions

We strongly consider that teachers should have intensive dialogues with their students, in order to make them understand that it is highly important to make the difference between a talk with a friend and a talk with an official, to concentrate on the online use of the words and their appropriate usage, also taking into account the receiver’s role in the communication process.

The last stage of our study was to give our students some instructions regarding their text messaging:

  1. They should be aware that the best way to text is to send a clear and concise message,
  2. They should not hurry, take their time to use formal register when mailing to officials; So, for those who notice that instant messaging style of writing starts to appear on their academic paper, they need to be careful and try to practice good language even during instant messaging, too.
  3. They should never send only one word answers,
  4. They should make sure that their text messages are readable. Also, proper punctuation and spelling is essential.
  5. They should not use excessive smileys.

5. Conclusions

Linguists reported that a teenager knows and uses only 800 words. We do not consider the dialect of our students a new and negative phenomenon, because every generation of teenagers has enriched his language, by inventing a new one, decoded only by them. 

It is true that their grammar, spelling mistakes pose a threat to the Romanian language, but we want to carry on our activity by involving them in more issues related to writing, speaking and communicating formally.

English has a great impact on their Internet dialect because Romanian youngsters are very innovative, considering English a continuous support and an asset. The Internets represent a new frontier for them, a place for developing and exchanging ideas that helped them invent another language, to make us see it is an important part of their culture.

Bibliography

Crispin, Thurlow et al. Computer Mediated Communication, Social Interaction and the internet. Sage Publications, 2004 (library. nu).

Crystal, D. Language and the Internet. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Gilster. P. Digital literacy. New York, Wiley, 1997.

Trudgill P. Sociolinguistics – An introduction to Language and Society. London, Penguin, 1995.

Werry C. C. Internet Relay Chat, Philadelphia, John Benjamins, 1996.

Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, New York, Simon & Shuster, 1995.

About the author(s)

Mariana Coanca is a doctoral student enrolled in the 2008-2011 doctoral program of the Docroral School of the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest, Romania. Last year, she was a visiting student for eight months, at The University of Bologna, SITLEC Department, Forli. As a visiting doctoral student, she undertook to do research for the doctoral dissertation entitled “Characteristics of the e-commerce terminology”. Furthermore, she attended classes, lectures and conferences on topics related to her research.

Elena Museanu is currently working as a lecturer at The Romanian-American University, Bucharest, Romania. She graduated from the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest, Romania. Aditionally, she is a member of Realiter-The Panlatin Network of Terminology and she attended conferences in Romania and abroad, where she presented more than fifteen papers related to the economic terminology.

Email: [please login or register to view author's email address]

©inTRAlinea & Mariana Coancă, Elena Museanu (2012).
"The Internet dialect of the Romanian youngsters"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: The Translation of Dialects in Multimedia II
Edited by: Giovanni Nadiani & Chris Rundle
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: http://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/1848

Go to top of page