Facebook generation creating new language

Social media forging new linguistics

Teenagers have forged a new language on social media websites in an effort to keep their private lives hidden from parents and employers.

A study conducted by Lisa Whittaker, postgraduate at the University of Stirling, looked at the activity of 16-to-18-year-olds on Bebo and discovered that the new tongue has been forged to protect them from judgement.

She found that young people in a relationship were known as 'taken' or 'Ownageeee', while 'Legal' refers to someone over the age of 16. In addition, the word 'Ridneck', derived from redneck, means embarrassed.

"This is not just bad spelling, which would suggest literacy issues, but a deliberate attempt to creatively misspell words," said Whittaker.

"The creation and use of their own social language may be a deliberate attempt to keep adults from understanding what is written on the page. By doing this they are able to communicate with their in-group and conceal the content from the out-group. This further adds to their online identity."

Changing language of advertising

This shift in semantics could be of particular interest to social media marketing representatives looking to appeal to young people starting to gain an income. A study from The Nielsen Company last month found that the UK is among the top users of social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace.

The UK ranked fourth behind the US, Italy and Australia in the study, with the average time spent on the sites among the top ten ranked countries estimated to be around five and a half hours long.

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