In our quest to keep up with the times, which are ever evolving, we seem to have no time to waste. Technology and social media have made us become less and less patient. Behind us are the days when you had to wait a day or maybe two to get a reply after sending an e-mail. Not everyone had the means at home or in the palm of their hand to be able to provide quick answers as we do now. This fast evolution has also reached our language. The way we now communicate through social media has become the way we communicate in spoken language.
We are always trying to say as much as we can, using as little space and time as possible (The law of least effort). One way we have accomplished this is by abbreviating almost everything. Nowadays, acronyms encompass not only a phrase nor are they limited to the word they stand for, but they have also become a name/noun in themselves. They now carry meaning, emotion and are used to represent the thing/person they are referencing.
One clear example of this is BAE (Before Anyone Else). It would normally be used in a phrase such as “My boo comes BAE.” Instead, one might hear “You’re my BAE,” or “My BAE and I are watching a movie tonight.” As we can see, the acronym has become a whole representation or symbol of the words it stands for, a new noun in the making.
As languages evolve and adapt, and new ways of getting our ideas and thoughts across appear, we are left wondering if this is really where we are headed. It is one thing to be confined to expressing ourselves within a limited number of characters (Yes Twitter, I’m talking to you!), and another completely different to translate that into spoken language. We have to be careful, otherwise we’ll end up spelling our sentences instead of actually saying words. Let’s say something like this: “IDK if I can keep up. TBH, I’m GTR to SMH. DAE feel like that?” (It’s your job to figure it out, I had to!). There are different ways to read out these types of acronyms. We can actually say the words the acronyms represent (for this one, we have to be up-to-date with our acronym lingo), we can spell them (as we do in cases such as DM: “ˈDˈ-ˈMˈ me later”), or simply pronounce them as a word (BAE, for example, would be pronounced /ˈbeɪ/.
Whether we like it or not, these acronyms have become our new way of communicating. It is our job and task as linguists to keep up. If you didn’t figure out the phrase above, it reads: “I Don’t Know if I can keep up. To Be Honest, I’m Getting Ready to Shake My Head. Does Anyone Else feel like that?” (We have to admit, it did save us a lot of space, right?). Thank you again Twitter, you started this! And to all of you DFTBA!