Text Speak as an Equalizer

In North America, our accents contribute to our societal worth. Any deviations from Standard American English are given weight. For example, many North Americans consider the Received Pronunciation (RP), which is spoken by the British Royal Family, to equate the speaker with sophistication, knowledge, and authority. Conversely, the Southern American English accent, especially when spoken by minorities, has low social value. Here in Canada, we have the same. You can tell when people come from rural communities in Alberta because of the way they speak. And let’s not get started on attitudes towards Newfies.

But when we are communicating digitally, those accents can be invisible. Unless you’re inserting “ya’ll” or “donchaknow” or “eh” into your text, your spoken accent is irrelevant.

Unless you’re this guy

Digital media has diminished English into a short hand that has its own rules, but for those who pick it up, it reduces the social power for those who speak “better English” than others. People with less-desirable accents and those who have picked up English as a second language, it helps their message get heard without as much bias as when they speak it.

Of course, we find other ways to measure social value online. Like I judge anybody who uses “1drfl” to mean “wonderful.” Seriously. Don’t do it.




One thought on “Text Speak as an Equalizer

  1. This is a great thought, and the power of the internet does diminish these biases and prejudices that exist with accents and their association to members within society. The internet is a great platform for people to express their opinion equally and fairly, without any condescending beliefs. If we could translate this invisibility expressed online to in person communication, the imbalance and racial prejudices within society can slowly be eliminated.


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