April 30, 2007


I'm afraid that I don't get it. Maybe the idea is that old-tyme slang involved new meanings for old words, like "cool", while "LOL" is an altogether new word? But there are plenty of antique terms made from initialisms, like AWOL or FUBAR. So it's not that, but what?

[Please, don't write to explain to me what LOL means, or how it's one of many recent initialisms associated with keyboarded communication, or even that this particular one originally comes from usenet if not before, rather than from the IM and texting cultures that have adopted it. I already know that. What I don't get is why someone would think that this is a new linguistic development, more like a new language than like just another example of the well-established phenomenon that gave us SNAFU and many others.]

[John Cowan wrote:

I think it's just the same old same old "degenerate youth" business. No special explanation needed.

And by way of elaboration, John sent a link to this comic:

Well, I know that "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people", as H.L. Mencken said, but "unshelved" is a comic strip. An internet comic strip about librarians, for cripes sake, which I expect to be at least a bastion of common sense, if not a beacon of intellect. I'm disappointed.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 30, 2007 04:52 PM