Social media sees English language evolve faster

The English language is evolving at a faster rate now than at any other time in history because of social media and instant messaging, a language expert has said.

Professor John Sutherland from University College London is the UK’s leading English expert, and has led a study into common social media and ‘text speak’ terms found most parents were baffled by the language used by their children.

According to the study, which was commissioned by technology giant Samsung to mark the launch of the Galaxy S6, there was now a “seismic generational gap” between the older and younger generations when it came to how modern informal language was used.

Modern terms such as “fleek” and “bae” were found to be the most commonly confused by parents, with just 10% of the 2,000 surveyed being able to identify the true meaning of “bae” — a term of affection.

86% of parents who took part in the survey said they felt teenagers spoke an entirely different language on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“Fleek” — which means looking good — came top of the list of terms parents did not understand, with 43% saying they did not know it.

This was ahead of FOMO (fear of missing out) and bae, both of which were selected by 40% of parents.

Popular social media acronyms ICYMI (in case you missed it), TBT (throwback Thursday) and NSFW (not safe for work) also made the list of terms parents failed to understand.

Sutherland said: “The limitation of characters on old handsets were a key factor in the rise of acronyms in text messaging such as TXT, GR8, and M8.

“However, technological evolution has meant that these words are now effectively extinct from the text speak language and are seen as ‘antique text speak’.


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