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Online Texting Variations: Chinese Writing

Introduction

Since ancient times, the Chinese people have had a special attitude to the written language as a normative and correct one. On the opposite, spoken language has always been much more prone to deviations and the appearance of non-normative elements. However, the development of the Internet has led to the emergence of new language features that formed an interactive communication model. The Chinese language has formed a certain set of tools for implementing electronic communication, which has led to the revision of the usual approaches to the analysis of language phenomena. The language of online communication is a linguistic anomaly against the background of a standard language. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the effects of texting on Chinese writing and the language itself.

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Main body

The Chinese Internet language called “wǎngluò yǔyán” is an interesting linguistic phenomenon that has its own laws and development paths. Fundamentally new ways of using language resources, such as graphic elements, vocabulary, and grammar are observed precisely in the chat rooms, forums, and the most popular multifunctional application WeChat (Zhu, 2019). Against the background of the process of traditional standardization of language and writing in China, the language of online communication as a linguistic phenomenon stands apart. It is a combination of the spoken and written language, more reminiscent of the process of live communication, with its typical characteristics such as dynamism and increased expressiveness.

Online communication for Chinese users is complicated by the fact that the process of entering hieroglyphs is not as simple and efficient as for the alphabetic languages. They either type pinyin transcription on the keyboard or write the characters manually using touchscreen technology (Wang and Wang, 2017). The first method is faster and easier than to manually write complex hieroglyphic characters. The contradiction between the speed of entering hieroglyphs and the basic principle of online communication leads to the development of strategies to overcome these difficulties. Chinese words in online communication are written either completely in the Latin alphabet or the combination of hieroglyphs and letters, as well as various borrowed words representing abbreviations. For example, hieroglyphs are often replaced by Latin letters, such as “ni” instead of 你 “nǐ”, which means “you”(Cheng, 2018). As a result, these strategies simplify the language and lead to a decline in its sophistication.

The Chinese Internet actively uses the English vocabulary, which is common in any other foreign-speaking online community due to the presence of the English layout on most devices. The use of English letters and abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of the transcriptions of hieroglyphs are popular due to the speed of input, as well as the desire to make speech emotionally expressive and stylistically marked (Wang and Wang, 2017). Typically, the Chinese use abbreviations for the words of kinship, for example, “gg” instead of “gēge” (“elder brother”), “mm” instead of “mèimei “(“younger sister”), or “tx” instead of 同学 “tóngxué” (“classmate”) (Cheng, 2018). The variety of electronic communication means is not limited to borrowed words and abbreviations. In order to speed up message input, Chinese under-30 Internet users actively replace lexical units and grammatical indicators with numbers that are often repeated, for example, “5” instead “I”,  “0” for “you”, and “88” or “bābā” for “bye-bye” (Baihui and Fengjie, 2017). On the one hand, this phenomenon facilitates the decline in the sophistication of the Chinese language. On the other hand, these examples testify not only to the popularity of this tool in electronic communication among Chinese users, but also the fact that it has reached the level of international communication.

The widespread romanization and penetration of Latin letters into the Chinese language system caused the so-called interference processes. It is known that the traditional Chinese characters leave no room for abstract thinking since the characters are separated from the sound. However, due to foreign intervention, a synthesis of hieroglyphic and alphabet writing systems is being formed today, thus changing the traditional way of Chinese writing. Due to the penetration of English words in the Chinese language, new syllables appear, which differ in the composition and sequence of elements (Cheng, 2018). Lexical changes begin to influence the phonetic and even grammatical structure, which is due to the peculiarities of the structure of the Chinese language system as a whole. These phenomena can be observed in the writing mainly of the younger generation (Zhu, 2019). However, all of these changes are actively becoming commonplace, entering into the everyday speech of the vast majority of Chinese speakers.

The relationship between texting and the standard of the literary language is an important aspect of the functioning of Chinese on the Internet. Naturally, there are concerns about the negative effects of netspeak on the Chinese language, as well as other languages. Like English speakers, who lament a decline in the sophistication of English, Chinese should be even more worried about the impact of texting on language transformations. The abundance of symbols, Latin letters, hieroglyphs, transcription elements sometimes baffle even the most active Internet users (Siok and Liu, 2018). The Chinese are often forced to understand the meaning of new expressions and signs that regularly appear on the Internet. For this reason, the Internet language as a special kind of communication attracts the attention of the Chinese authorities. As a result, official lists of the most popular words, phrases, and neologisms dictionaries are published.

The simplification of many language and speech norms is particularly important to linguists. Some experts like David Crystal call these processes a natural change (Crystal, 2018). The linguist says that texting is unable to completely transform the language; it is just an adaptation to the new electronic environment. The use of numbers and abbreviations is characteristic of this need. However, some experts notice a certain change in the lexical composition of the Chinese language, manifested in the formation of numerous word hybrids. When learning the Chinese language, it is required to fix in memory, not two, as in languages with a phonetic type of writing, but three links, mainly reading, meaning, and graphic form. Computer input of a hieroglyph, which does not imply writing a hieroglyphic character by hand decreases the writing skills of young people (Siok and Liu, 2018). This reduces the knowledge of Chinese writing to passive recognition of printed characters. For this reason, the Chinese authorities are concerned about young people who ignore the grammatical rules of the normative Chinese language not only in online communications but also in exam papers in educational institutions.

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The problem of the Chinese literary language norms, which is already quite acute, is becoming even more relevant in the current situation when the conditions of communication are changing so rapidly. Many language and speech norms are simplified due to the certain neglect of the rules of spelling and punctuation, including the so-called pseudographics, as well as blurring the boundaries of traditional genres and functional styles. At the same time, researchers also note the phenomena associated with the language complication and the presence of a tendency toward the intellectualization of modern culture (Crystal, 2018). This is manifested in the widespread use of terms outside the scientific style of speech, as well as lexico-grammatical models of foreign speech. These phenomena complicate the perception of information, require special intellectual efforts and additional knowledge, thus making communication more meaningful and rich. Such examples suggest that the simplification of the Chinese language in electronic communication proceeds in parallel with the processes of its complication.

Conclusion

The Internet language in China is a complex and controversial phenomenon, inevitably representing an organic part of the modern Chinese language and sometimes changing the language standards beyond recognition. The scale of the replenishment of the Chinese vocabulary in the 21st century, largely due to online communication, allows talking about the ongoing transformation. Bright, imaginative, emotionally colored lexical units accurately describe the phenomena of the new Chinese reality and quickly become fixed in the consciousness of the speakers. However, along with the positive effect of the Internet users’ creativity and adaptation to the new electronic environment, information technology also has a certain negative impact on the language system, especially writing. Given the features of the Internet as the main medium of communication, various distortions and substitutions among modern youth lead to the erasure of language standards. As a result, the violation of norms becomes widespread and goes beyond the boundaries of the online environment, gradually penetrating into the official language.

References

Baihui, S. and Fengjie, L. (2017) ‘The analysis of anti-language from the perspective of current situation of netspeak’, International Journal of Language and Linguistics, 5(2), pp.50-56.

Cheng, S. (2018) A contrastive analysis of word formation of English and Chinese neologisms’, Theory and practice in language studies, 8(2), pp.251-256.

Crystal, D. (2018) The language revolution. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Siok, W.T. and Liu, C.Y. (2018) ‘Differential impacts of different keyboard inputting methods on reading and writing skills’, Scientific Reports, 8(1), pp.1-13.

Wang, D. and Wang, S. (2017) ‘Research on features of chatroom netspeak from a stylistic view’, Studies in Literature and Language, 15(1), pp.43-46.

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Zhu, L., (2019) ‘New approach to Chinese writing: An exploratory study of writing performance on social Q&A online community’, Chinese Language Teaching Methodology and Technology, 2(1), pp.17-31.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 7). Online Texting Variations: Chinese Writing. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/online-texting-variations-chinese-writing/

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StudyCorgi. "Online Texting Variations: Chinese Writing." January 7, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/online-texting-variations-chinese-writing/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Online Texting Variations: Chinese Writing." January 7, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/online-texting-variations-chinese-writing/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Online Texting Variations: Chinese Writing'. 7 January.

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