After a visual and auditorial language was established, humans found that as their knowledge and awareness of the world around them grew, they lacked the capacity to permanently store important information in their brains. This is where text came into play. As explained in previous blog post ‘The Cognitive Mind’, text is a form of semiotic, man made symbols.
If you look at the alphabetical symbols from a technical point of view, it could be argued that it is made up of lots of images that we, as English speakers, translate into our language. Others may argue that the alphabet has nothing at all to do with artwork, yet surely it is undeniable that in certain languages such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, an artistic approach has been highly prevalent in its development.
An interesting thought to consider is how language has changed drastically in modern day society which has ultimately affected the way in which text is viewed and written. In the last few decades, generations have changed language in a way that has spurred resentment among tradition upholding generations. The English language is constantly evolving, although in recent years has fast tracked into a melting pot of cultural and social expressions due to technological developments such as mobile phones and social networks. Many believe that the development of these technologies have greatly harmed the understanding and continuation of the traditional English language and the way that it is written.Words are being abbreviated, merged and reinvented, but is that necessarily a bad thing? If language is man made, isn’t it fair to say that these younger generations, as human beings are still developing a legitimate language? Who is to say that in future years this ‘text speak’ won’t be seen as tradition when language is further developed, or what we see now as traditional language wasn’t once condemned as ‘text speak’ itself.
It is important that we understand that like art, language will always change and evolve to suit the needs of society. We cut and paste elements of traditional text to create new interpretations and styles of writing. There is no harm in making language contemporary where appropriate, however put out some may become because of it, as long as we remember to uphold the understanding of traditional writing and keep the fundamentals instilled in society. It is also important when working in the field of communication design to be aware of the audience and what language is appropriate to use, whether it takes inspiration from a Charlotte Bronte novel or the latest comment on Reddit. Because of the variety of situations in which the use of language is so determinative, we should appreciate the fluidity and continuous development of language, not shirk from it.
(Ideas adapted from lectures given by Donna Leishman)