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[Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference

Whew! Just quickly read through a LONG sequence of posts in this thread,
which seems to have wound itself like a cat's cradle around quite a few
different fingers. Typically, as I recall past threads on xmca! :-)

But with all the talk about technologies and social impacts, I rather
thought the original question got lost: How are computer-mediated
technologies influencing language itself. By which I think one means
language change, and in particular, as it is by far the most used language
online, change in the English language?

I know there are researchers already looking into this (sorry, I don't have
cites on hand; google it!). But I think that this perspective does raise
interesting parallels with the advent of printing.

Print made a LOT more people Readers. Online communication is making a LOT
more people Writers.

Print slowly shifted diverse dialect-dominated languages toward
standardized written national languages. Online communication is rapidly
promoting the development of international flavors of English (sometimes
called by linguists World Englishes).

Online written communication lowers the barriers to language innovation,
neologisms (BTW, brb, IMHO), and possibly the mixing of English with both
vocabulary and even grammatical preferences from other languages. Online
many people are writing English (or something like it) who are not native
speakers and not very formally educated in the language. They are often
writing it to other people who are similarly casual users of, call it

The language police are present so far mainly through software which tries
to conform what you type to some standard international Language (I have a
few keyboard settings and they each come with automated language police). I
see this as part of the modern battle between the interests of the
Corporate Few (including the modern State) in uniformity and predictability
of markets (voters) vs. the interests of the rest of us in communicating
with as few constraints and at as low a price in time and effort as

While not focused on online communication, Minae Mizumura's The Fall of
Language (poor title translation) in the Age of English, gives some
interesting history of what happens to local languages when they fall under
the influence of international ones. At the very least, this history
suggests that internet Anglish is going to catalyze a LOT of language


Jay Lemke
LCHC/Department of Communication
University of California - San Diego

On Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 1:14 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu> wrote:

> Hello Esteemed XMCArs,
> One area that the computer has made an impact, that I'm unsure is the
> analog in the pre-computer era of human experience, is something called
> trolling.
> Trolling has something of a double definition. It can be picking a fight
> on a list, starting a flame war, etc. This can be done in a few ways.
> There's the overt arguing about points but never letting go and never
> getting to a point to agree to disagree, just seeing how far one can kick
> the can down the road.
> Then there's something more covert. This is done by posting something so
> ridiculously in error that the gullible or those unfamiliar with the
> character of posters on a list (who will perform this for the spectacle as
> the drama unfolds of "eating popcorn" with others or by oneself), will post
> in earnest a reply and thusly become a target for further trolling at a
> later time.
> I have yet to experience that here on XMCA, but I suppose that it's still
> possible that this kind of behavior which seems to be promoted by anonymity
> of the Internet, can happen here, though I'd hope that this list is of a
> higher standard. On other lists I've seen that this behavior is dealt with
> by the pat wisdom, "Don't Feed the Trolls." Though I'm not sure how well
> that serves people.
> Another, more abusive form of trolling is the caustic heinous (and
> therefore criminal) kind we see on platforms like Twitter, which is made by
> a coward who uses a sock puppet (an pseudonymous account to disguise one's
> identity), to post all kinds of verbal and symbolic filth and abuse upon a
> targeted victim, usually women, people of color and/or LGBT folks. Famous
> people are also victim to this, such as Lena Dunham or Ashley Judd.
> Happily, I noticed that Ashley Judd is announcing that she is pressing
> charges upon those who recently trolled her on Twitter. Lena Dunham has
> just deleted her account period. Somehow both these solutions are
> unsatisfactory to me.
> In any case, it seems that the effect, whether for benign LOLs, or to
> terrifically verbally abuse another person, can only be out of a
> deep-seated need to humiliate another person.
> What I wonder is this: Where does this need come from? Perhaps other
> XMCArs can comment any hypotheses?
> The tool of the computer amplifies this psychological pathology. I can say
> this is one area where computers make a big difference in the quality of
> life for many people, if not HUGE.
> Kind regards,
> Annalisa