Marcus Swan is a designer working at ZERO-G. He is a lover a type and specialises in typographic solutions for web and print.
This was the second of the Typography Ireland talks that we have attended, and the first one we've recorded. This talk centers around the evolving nature of language, and the growing medium that is the Txt Msg.
More specifically how people communicate quickly through the art of text messages. Personally feelings regarding the deterioration of the English language aside, it is amazing to consider how the text message has breached through to modern life is such a short space of time.
Today the text is most widely used mobile data service. Irish people send an average 114 messages per person per month, this equates to 1.4billion texts per quarter (thank you Wikipedia). In the Uk they top over a billion messages per week. I myself, feel a little left out. I doubt I send more than 100 messages a year.
Marcus talks about the actual nature of the text. How it can be used, and misused socially. That there is a certain secrecy involved. "When your phone goes off, everyone knows that you have received a message, but nobody knows what the context of that message is". He points out that social boundaries don't really exist in text message (using the example of Kevin Federline getting dumped live on Tv by Britney Spears).
He then goes on to discuss the reasons behind the rise of text speak. That initially, because of the limitations of the phones and networks, you were only able to send 140 bytes (160 characters). This lead to people being creative with their words, abbreviating words as a means of fitting more in. This in turn, led to a faster exchange of messages. Instead of having to consider punctuation and spelling, people were beginning to write everything phonetically.
Occasionally, you might even get the dreaded cryptic sentence. Eg. TTYL = Talk to you later. BRB = Be right back. Marcus mentions that predictive text has actually affected the use, and meaning, of certain words in everyday life. How the word book, has become synonymous with the word cool, due to book appearing before cool in predictive text.
There are people, who counter the claim that the text culture is damaging the English language. In the book "Txtng: The Gr8 Db8", linguistic David Crystal reminds us that people have been abbreviating for decades, and that sending text messages actually improves literacy. That it affords more opportunity of engagement by exposing people to the language through reading and writing, and that in order to send a text, you need to know how to spell in the first place.
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