Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Randomness about words. This is not a complete essay, it has not been proof read even by me, this is just a simple exercise in observation.


Academic language, 1337 speak, txt msg, thieves' cant; Language is used as a means in which to descriminate, to keep a specific group of people seperate. In some cases it is easy to see the reasons, and desired effects.

Thieves' cant was used in Britain in the 1500's as a way for criminals to discuss crimes, and potential victims in realtive safety. In this case it becomes incredibly easy to see the intended use; to allow conversation that prevented law enforcement and good samaritans from putting a stop to illegal activities. Now Thieves' cant is relegated to fantasy fiction, and role playing games.

Txt msg is a set of rules for abbreviation that are designed to allow rapid communication with minimal risk of the details of the message being descovered by those outside the txt msg world. In many cases this means parents. POS means many things, in many forms of life; in txt msg is means Parent Over Shoulder, signifying that the nature and speed of the conversation will be altered to make it more difficult for the parent to understand or follow the conversation.

1337 speak; a series of number characters and symbols designed to remove the non-computer savvy from the conversation. Many claim that 1337 or LEET speak is used by hackers as a form of communication, yet the majority of this form of conversation is limited to chat rooms and video games. The name is derived from the term elite, taking meaning that the person is of above average skill or ability. Even the name of the language is set in such as way as to cause a separation of people.

While not all inclusive, this list is completed with quite possibly the most disturbing examples of language segregation. Academic Language is by far the worst perpetrator, of intentional segregation, on this list. Attempting to disguise itself a s modicum of normalcy, Academic language achieves a specific goal, keeping the educated and the uneducated distinctly separate. Simple use of language in the academic setting creates a slowly evolving feeling of community; as your time withing academia progresses this level of community, of belonging, grows to a strong feeling of camaraderie amongst the intellectual. While inherently good, this inevitably creates a rift between those that live and grown within academia, and those who never enter its waters.

I have no idea why I am writing about this, I am not up in arms wanting a change in the way things are. I am not asking that academic language change to fit the common vernacular of everyday conversation. I am just asking that we realize what is occurring, and then consider the effects of such events.