Language and the Internet

(Axel Boer) #1

Finding an identity 91

this would be equivalent to saying

Hear what my nice computer has done now

but by showing the ‘erased’ element, the sentence adds an ironic
effect. Virtually any piece of programming notation might be en-
countered in hacker-influenced conversation, and thus end up as a
part of Netspeak in general. For example, the angle brackets used
in HTML in pairs, to indicate the beginning and end of a com-
mand (the latter preceded by a forward slash), can be seen in such
pseudo-instructions as:

<moan>I’ve got an interview tomorrow</moan>
<flame>You’ve got no sense at all</flame>

The most general features of Netspeak distinctiveness are cur-
rently found chiefly in graphology and the lexicon – the levels of
language where it is relatively easy to introduce innovation and
deviation. As with language change in general, grammatical vari-
ation is less frequent or widespread. When it does occur it tends
to be restricted to a particular situation or group of users. For ex-
ample, the phenomenon ofverbreduplicationoccurs in some chat-
groups, and occasionally elsewhere, but as yet is not a universally
encountered feature. A verb (from a fairly small set) is used twice in
immediate succession to express a range of functions, such as an ex-
pression of pleasure or pain, as a sarcastic or exasperated reaction,
or simply as a turn-taking marker, showing that an utterance is

You should see the reaction. Flame, flame.
How about that! Win, win. [‘the program has performed
I deleted your message. Lose, lose! [‘I’m stupid’]
What you do that for? Barf, barf. [‘I’m disgusted’]

Reduplication is sometimes seen elsewhere – for example, jokey
topic groups on Usenet sometimes use a triple final element, as
inalt.sadistic.dentists.drill.drill.drill.But on the whole the effect

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