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The millennial generation is extensively influenced by technology. This generation has had access to mobile phones, digital equipments and the internet. The Millennials prefer text messaging, IMing, and social networking sites rather than conventional forms of communication such as phone conversations (Godwin-Jones 13).
Consequently, technologically-inflected version of English has evolved. There has been fear that the technologically-inflected version of English is having effects on standard written English. Although the Millennial generation has learnt to code switch between the two versions of English depending on audience, it is unquestionable that technologically- inflected version of English is affecting standard written English.
Code switching is a common practice in the multilingual world. Individuals have to switch from one language to another in order to communicate effectively. In most cases code switching is common in minority linguistic groups while in a dominant language (Auer 78). The practice is also common in bilingual or multilingual individuals. Individuals who code switch tend to choose the language to use automatically depending on their audience.
Technology has led to unmistakable two versions of English. The millennial generation’s version of English does not adhere to standard words and rules in Standard English. Words such as ‘wassup’ ‘gd ngt’ ‘gr8’ ‘luv u’ have evolved because of need to write shorten words and phrases when text-messaging and IMing.
The millennial generation has perfected in use of the technologically-inflected version of English considering that they have been brought up during the era of technology (Godwin-Jones 19). However, the Millennials have to communicate with other individual in the society. In school, they have to communicate with their educators, write academic essays and make presentations. In such situations, they have to use Standard English rather than the technologically-inflected version of English.
Code switching between technologically-inflected version of English and Standard English has become necessary for millennial generation. At school, students use technologically- inflected version of English when communicating with their peers on social issues. For example, students are unlikely to use Standard Written English when updating their status on social networking sites like Facebook, when text-messaging their peers or when using Instant Message applications.
However, they switch to Standard English when writing to their instructors on academic issues, when writing academic papers or when writing a formal letter. It is clear that the students choose the version of English to use depending on their audience and subject. For instance, students are likely to use Standard Written English when responding to discussion topics on academic discussion boards, but use technologically-inflected version of English in a sports blog.
Use of technologically-inflected version of English has effect on standard written English despite of code switching between the two. Text messaging, blogging, IMing, social networking sites and other modern forms communication have become common and frequent (Godwin-Jones 17).
The language used in the new forms of communication is likely to find its way to Standard Written English. For example, frequent use of abbreviations such as HR, HRD, HOD, and ALT in Standard English can be attributed to frequent use of technologically-inflected version of English.
Among other reasons, code switching is motivated by the need to show social solidarity among members of the millennial generation. Technologically-inflected version of English is not just a communication tool but also a social identity for the millennial generation. In school, the main challenge for English trainers is how they take code- switching as a tool for communication rather than viewing it as threat to Standard English.
Auer, Peter. Code-Switching in Conversation: Language, Interaction and Identity. New York: Routledge, 2002.
Godwin-Jones, Robert. Emerging Technologies: Messaging, Gaming, Peer-to-Peer Sharing Language Learning Strategies & Tools for the Millennial Generation. Language, Learning & Technology 9.1 (2005): 17-22.