Monday, August 16, 2010

Universe begins collapsing on itself: Facebook at fault

We're reaching the point where irony is so widely employed and ubiquitous that language itself is losing its meaning:
The idea is that you are pretending to speak in the common language of Facebook, and are in fact speaking in that common language, but are aware of how unoriginal you are being; so when you write "omg" you are ironically commenting on the use of "omg," but when other people write "omg" they are seriously saying "oh my God."
-- Kaitie Roiphe in the New York Times, 13 August 2010
in article entitled "The Language of Facebook"
That is, if you want to call "omg" (and put as many quotation marks around that as you want before you get tired and start drinking, even though it's only 9:30 in the morning) language. And it is, of course.

Yesterday I had a chat (not a face to face [or F2F] conversation, but a Google chat) with a friend yesterday in which she was telling me about her college students indulging in "code-switching," which in her case is "heritage speakers" in her Spanish classes -- i.e. students whose first language is Spanish -- speaking in a mixture of English and Spanish without even realizing they're doing do. At least they don't write like that, though I don't see why they should stop themselves in certain forums -- including Facebook, no doubt. I immediately thought of Thomas Merton's use of Macaronic language (which is the intentional practice of using multiple languages in a text to shade, obfuscate, or enhance meaning) in his poetry. Merton's work is the only Macaronic poetry I'm familiar with, and I couldn't find a good example online in a short time, but here is an example "from the early 15th century" (!):
A celuy que pluys eyme en monde,
of alle tho that I have found,
saluz od treye amour,
with grace and joye and alle honour,
Sachez bien, pleysant et beele,
that I am right in good heele,
    Laus Christo!
et mon amour doné vous ay.
and also thine owene night and day
    in cisto.

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