The language that people use is multifaceted and unique. With the help of speech, a person can not only convey his or her thoughts and communicate with an interlocutor. Over the past thousand years, human communication has reached a new level, becoming the object of study of many linguists. As a rule, people do not attach much importance to what they say, especially in dialogues with close people. At the same time, most of the language structures are firmly entrenched in the human mind, and today almost any relationship is built with the help of speech. Despite the fact that the style of conversations has recently changed in comparison with the previous centuries, verbal communication is still the most common way of conveying information. The relevance of the language, its wealth, and fullness in many ways determine the culture of a particular nation; therefore, the way a person uses the opportunity of communication, displays his or her social status, life values, and priorities.
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Baldwin, an American linguist, examined the idea of so-called Black English in his study and considered this dialect of language concerning its relevance and fullness (5). The results of his work, conducted in the middle of the 20th century, are still relevant today. His colleague Mialki also studied similar issues related to the peculiarities of English, and she did it more than sixty years later. Texting as one of the main types of modern communication was in the center of her work (363). Both authors agreed that the unofficial versions of the language that appeared and were used exclusively in conversational communication had the right to exist and were able to convey particular ideas not worse than an official and standard vocabulary.
Nevertheless, Baldwin emphasized a racial difference between the so-called White and Black variants of English, saying that an African-American speech became an integral part of the nation’s culture (364). According to Mialki, texting is a rather valuable source of communication as this type of conversation is constantly developing and serves as a means of enriching the traditional composition of the language (6). Her research took place when mobile phones and social networks were already tightly integrated into people’s lives; thus, her work was different in style from Baldwin’s paper. However, both of these studies had one common feature: they considered a non-standard language that was typical for a particular population group.
Non-Standard Language as a Mass Phenomenon
The works of these two authors emphasize the prevalence of non-standard lexicon among people. For example, Baldwin claimed that if it were not for black citizens, he could not realize “what white Americans would sound like” (5). He believed that the influence of this group of the population was quite evident and predictable (Baldwin 5). The author worked at the time when racial inequality was only beginning to disappear, and the topic of his research reflected the interests of that period. Summarizing the work of Mialki, it can be noted that the author came to the same conclusion. According to her, texting “is a rich and inventive form of communication” (Mialki 364). A new type of virtual communication has become an integral part of the life of modern society, and it would be wrong to deny it. Consequently, based on the analysis of these two papers, the conclusion will be approximately identical: the language of masses is as common a phenomenon as, for instance, a business vocabulary.
The inevitability of an Informal Lexicon
The emergence of non-standard and colloquial language is quite a logical and theoretically justified aspect. First, the language is always developing and never stands still. For example, if one group of people is assimilated among another one, both of these cultural communities will inevitably take over the features of each other’s speech. In particular, it is reflected in Baldwin’s work. The author emphasized that the increase in the number of African-Americans in the country became the reason that their dialect and typical language structures densely entered the speech of the white population (Baldwin 6). Secondly, the pursuit of excellence, as a rule, involves simplification.
In her work, Mialki argues that the maximum shortening of language constructs in the text of electronic correspondence is people’s desire to convey their thoughts more quickly, making it in an unusual way (Mialki 364). Various shortenings, symbol replacements, and abbreviations are attempts to make the language easier and at the same time preserve the original meaning of all of its constructs and lexical units. All these facts testify that people quickly adapt to the changing norms of communication and are regularly developing and supplementing an existing vocabulary with new forms.
Thus, the language as a means of communication is an indispensable attribute of modern society and directly reflects the social status of people, their values, and priorities. Attempts to change the vocabulary are a desire to simplify and improve a language system. The spread of one group of people among another inevitably leads to the exchange of experience and is a condition for the emergence of new dialects.
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Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” Journal of Black Studied and Research, vol. 27, no. 1, 1997, pp. 5-6.
Mialki, Kristina. “Texting: A Boon, Not a Threat, to Language.” Practical Argument: A Text and Anthology, edited by Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, pp. 363-365.