Language and the Internet

(Axel Boer) #1


phrasestreaming media.It would appear that the aim is to make
anything speedily available with anything – Web with sound and
video, personal digital assistants with Web access, television with
Internet access, Internet with television access, radio programmes
with pictures, and so on. Cotton and Garrett illustrate some of the

expect to see digital cameras incorporating a personal organiser,
stylus handwriting recognition, audio voice recording and
internet access (e-mail and messaging, and JPEG image transfer).
Or a basic PDA (personal digital assistant) that becomes a stills
camera, digital radio, web browser, fa xmachine, mobile phone,
television set, video camcorder, voice memo-recorder on
demand – whenever the user plugs in the appropriate smartcard
or (eventually) presses the appropriate button.

New terms are already evolving to describe the novel combinations
of function, such asteleputer.Some domains, such as holography,
have yet to develop their communicative nomenclature.
From a linguistic point of view, the developments are of two
broad kinds: those which will affect the nature of language use
within an individual speech community; and those which bring
different languages together. Under the former heading, there will
be linguistic implications when speech is added to already exist-
course, we will be able to interact with systems through speech –
already possible in a limited way – with speech recognition (at
the sender’s end) making it unnecessary to type messages into a
system, and speech synthesis (at the receiver’s end) providing an
alternative to graphic communication. Then there is the comple-
mentary effect, with vision being added to already existing speech
modalities (both synchronous and asynchronous), as in the case of
the personal videophone, videoconferencing using mobile phones,
and video extensions to e-mail and chat situations. Here we shall

(^3) Cotton and Garrett (1999: 14). JPEG refers to Joint Photographic Experts Group, the
standard method for the electronic transmission of photographs.

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