The internet is a lawless land for language.
Language transcends conventional grammatical rules, evolves into internet-specific slang and revolutionizes linguistics.
While there is no law, there are patterns and trends that become norms. These norms become an inside joke among online communities, making individuals feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.The recurrent changes in linguistics occurs most in millennials. This generation grew up with computers and internet by their side and developed their own dialect of English. By far, the most advanced step in linguistics the millennials have taken is the creation of tone to convey emotion by experimenting with traditional English grammar.
For example, punctuation or lack thereof is used to convey tone. “Why would XYZ do that?” vs. “why would xyz do that” provokes completely different reactions. The first is a question indicating a need for an answer whereas the second is rhetorical speech of someone who is venting. This grammar is easily recognized by those part of the community making them feel like they are “in” on the rebellion against language. However, what it actually does is push the boundaries of language. Never before has there been any marker or indication of rhetoric in written speech. No longer does a sentence need context to determine tone. What was previously bound only to oral speech has leaked its way into internet speak.
Other commonly accepted norms on the internet include the blending of languages (Hinglish!), meme culture, excessive use of punctuation in certain contexts, the varying degrees of using uppercase and lowercase letters and several more that modify or develop into new trends.
What does this mean for digital marketing?
Content development is key. But without effectively using language as a tool, it is hard to market towards millennials who form 64% of the workforce in India. It is clear they cannot be ignored since they form the majority of users on the internet as well.
One way to stay in the loop is to consume and participate in dialogues on the internet. There is no better way to understand the nuances of internet speak than to take part in it personally. Using micro-blogging platforms like Twitter, Reddit, Quora or Tumblr once a day doesn’t take long, even scrolling feeds daily is effective in understanding the way people communicate. Getting caught up in the seeming corruption of English is a digital marketing faux pas, it is important to keep up with the changes and view it for what it is- a linguistic marvel.