Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Linguistic integrity

I want to write about why I seemed to care so much about the filter Blizzard put on the forum, to the point where I got banned for it.

I don't point these things out because my intent is to be negative or hateful. In all honesty and seriousness, my intent is exactly the opposite. Sometimes however what I talk about can appear dark on the outside, when the intent is light internally; the Kali element again. ;-)

Some of you reading this (a few, at least) might have read a book by a man called George Orwell. The book was called 1984. He wrote it during the mid 1940s, and it was set in a hypothetical future, in the year 1984, where the planet was ruled by only around three or four different totalitarian governments.

At one point, the book details that one of the key ways in which the local totalitarian government maintained power was by the gradual erradication of language. The vocabulary was shrunk down to such an extent that certain concepts (such as freedom, for example) could not be spoken about at all, literally because there were no words with which to describe or express them.

Blizzard's filter, whether they were intending it to or not, actually made a very powerful point. Namely, that over use of acronyms (and especially, the corruption even of said acronyms to produce terms like lawl) can end up causing written language to become almost entirely unreadable.

I'm not trying to say that I never use acronyms or corrupted terms myself; when you're typing, the temptation to do so can be very difficult to resist, especially if you need to get something written quickly. However, the over use of such terms as LOL at times does genuinely bother me.

If you try reading some of the lines in either the Looking For Group or Trade channels within World of Warcraft, next time you do so, ask yourself how likely it is that you would be able to understand the strings of acronyms you see there, if you had never seen them before. Also stop and think; when you were new to the game yourself, were you able to understand intuitively what these acronyms meant, or did you need someone else to deliberately explain them to you?

Acronyms in that sense are very much like profanity. When used in moderation and in context, they're fine. However, there is a tendency with both of them, for them to be excessively relied on by people whose personal vocabularies are that small that they may not know how to express themselves in any other way.

I'm not one of the people who believes that computer games necessarily lead to real-world physical violence. However, one problem caused by computer games (that I feel legitimately does exist) is the gradual errosion and corruption of language that is engaged in, and apparently even encouraged, by the subcultures associated with said games.

Excessive use of LOL and other acronyms is never engaged in with any kind of introspection or analysis. It's all a big joke, something to be laughed at in itself. Anyone who does look at it seriously in any way receives the type of reception that I got; first reproach and claims that I "don't have a life," and then silencing.

I encourage anyone here who hasn't read it, to read 1984, and to especially look at the parts of the book describing the language Newspeak, and how it is used in the novel. The book is in the public domain, so you can read it here.

When you have read it, think about what it says regarding the subjects of language and memory. Then possibly think about the use of compacted language within games and other places, and lastly possibly about the current political situation within America in particular.

See what you come up with.

No comments: