Internet Grammar

I’ve been discussing with Michele about whether Internet blogs should follow grammar rules. My personal opinion is that unless you’re blogging for a reason (an assignment or the blog is used as a resource on a topic) you don’t have to use proper grammar. My blog is a recollection of my ideas and thoughts on a variety of topics, and if my ideas don’t require grammar I won’t use it. (Before I get comments, I’m a grammar nut. I even use it for text messages, I blame a string of forceful English teachers in high school.)

Given the rise of Internet slang usage (thank you Michele) does grammar even apply to the web based communications? Do I need to put punctuation after AMHIK (ask me how I know)? If I’m substituting letters/numbers for words (U,2) in a sentence, does the rest of the sentence have to use grammar? If grammar rules are needed, who will create them? English grammar is based on centuries of English language usage, who will create the rules for Internet grammar? Even since I’ve been online, the slang has changed. How do you adopt grammar for a constantly evolving language?

I don’t expect answers to these questions, I’m just curious what other people thing.



  1. Brian B said,

    September 13, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    i dont think you need to use proper grammar. some of the “intellectual” people might diassagre, but i could careless if i can understand what you wrote. being so accustumed, especially to using the (u, 2) i write them all the time and then have to back track and fix them on emails! If i am reading them online i may just passover and read them w/o even knowing that it was a U or a 2..

    you should have wrote this article in slang and numbers.. it would have been an interesting read

  2. September 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    First, with the prof hat on, you are right: for the responses, your grammar should be impeccable and unimpeachable.

    The question I have is why you would choose to deviate from grammatical constructs. I can think of one reason: ironic usage. Other than that, I fail to see a good reason to abandon proper grammar.

    What you may be talking about is adopting differing diction. I can certainly see an argument for changing your diction in a blog post, but blatant violations of grammatical codes?

    Both diction and grammar help to determine how you will be accepted by a particular discourse community. It is still necessary to “dress for success.” Of course, what that means is very different if you are looking for a career in porn or a career in banking. Show up to a porn convention in a conservative suit, and you may not be getting very far. So, one argument for changing your discursive style is that you want to “fit in” to a particular discourse community. Without being overly dismissive, are the blogs that make use of the slang you have noted (lower case, “u” for “you,” hyper abbreviation) written by people in a community you want to appeal to?

    For me, as an academic, there are certain expectations for my writing. My diction tends to be fairly informal, but when I make a grammatical error, people call me on it, and they think less of my writing because of it. I have colleagues whose blogs tend to move closer to IM-speak, but I don’t think that’s a very good idea.

    IMHO, using abbreviations that may be common in some settings also limits your audience to those familiar with the abbreviations. If you are seeking a large audience, it’s a good way to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Code-switching is an important skill. It’s worthwhile to be able to write formally in some settings and take on a different style in others. But by switching to an IM-style of writing on your blog, you risk others reading it and assuming that this is the only way you know how to write. If you plan only working in a position that does not require strong communication skills (and those are few and far between these days), then maybe a more informal tone is OK.

  3. delvyncale said,

    September 15, 2007 at 4:02 am

    I’m with you on the whole proper grammar thing. It bothers me when people mispronounce, misspell, and misuse words. I try my best to keep on with proper usage through dictionaries, encyclopedias and thesaurus. …speaking of that…is it threaurus’ or threasuruses?

    Last night, I lost my keys (for those paying attention, I had lost my phone the previous week…I blame grad school) and was trying to slickly text my sister to call our mom to tell her I couldn’t find my keys. My mom has never text, so my little sis had to walk her through texting, over the phone from school. When I text her, I used abbreviations and shorthand, like I always do with texts & im’s. Well then mom had to call back my sister back to have her translate what the hell I wrote in the text!

    Shorthand is really just a matter of convience. Obviously, I just wanted to get my message across, lost keys, wtf can I do?!, as quickly as possible so as not to disrupt myself or others from class. Most shorthand text because of the screen size and the speed of not only sending, but reading.

    Professor also touched on the fact that shorthand also limits your audience. My mother never knew how to text. Chances are, the percentage of adults of her age and demographic are not as text savy as my own age group.

    Happy ending….Patricia the wonderful woman at the campus Starbucks had my keys!


  4. rdmillner said,

    September 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    I thought about writing it in slang but I really dislike that stuff. I spent years learning English and I’m going to use it. I like the idea of thinking of slang as shorthand. I think thats how I’ll consider it from now on: not as a unique language but as a shortcut.

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