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Discuss some of the ways in which new technology can influence the forms and uses of English.

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Introduction

Discuss some of the ways in which new technology can influence the forms and uses of English Technology has been one of the important factors which causes language to change; it is not something which we should think of in terms of occurring in the last 100 years or so but as a concomitant factor with language development. Technology means, in general terms, new vocabulary, words and phrases; new written forms, new genres. These are the most obvious changes and the last really huge technological change for language was the invention of the printing press - resulting in new written forms and the standardisation of English. There have been tremendous technological changes since the middle of the 19th century with the advent of the telegraph; the radio; the television; the telephone; the film and video industry; the expansion of news and advertising and, over the last 15 years, the rise of the computer and Internet. I am going to focus on four of these technological areas to see in what ways they have initiated changes in the forms and uses of English: the production of news; television and radio commentary; advertising and computers and the Internet. In considering the growth of the daily newspapers it is important to realise that they have come to define the nature of modern news, that they have developed their own discourse structure and learnt to embed texts from a wide range of sources to produce a story. News stories have also developed a time structure which is different to traditional narratives. The technology which appears to have encouraged these forms is the mid 19th century telegraph which enabled news to be transmitted quickly and sowed the seeds of the news industry's primary value: the scoop, almost live' news. ...read more.

Middle

There is often the use of captions to complement the commentary. In a live commentary, she observes the uses of different tenses and the use of direct address to the audience to add a bit of intimacy, "I'd expect you'd like to know..." or "As you can see...": occasionally we get to see the commentator which adds to the illusion of a 'real' conversation taking place. In chapter 2 of the course reader, Sharon Goodman discusses visual English and literacy and how important these two aspects are in late 20th century society. Texts in English are becoming multi-modal - using a range of devices to communicate simultaneously different things to different audiences. "In the modern media...the visual dominates; the verbal augments. Print is not dead yet...nor will it ever be, but, nevertheless, our language-dominated culture has moved perceptibly toward the iconic. [Dondis, 1973,p7] [ch2, p.42] In a consumer-driven society the pressure is on private enterprise to persuade people to buy and text and spoken English is combined with still and moving pictures both to inform, entertain but, ultimately, to persuade. In reading A, The semiotic construction of a wine label, many of the of aforementioned points can be seen. David Graddol initially emphasises the ephemeral nature of many of the texts and also how the range of semiotic devices goes beyond the verbal and visual to include the tactile and olfactory. Labelling is multi-modal - addressing different audiences: retailer and consumer, communicating a range of messages. Technology has enabled a huge range of fonts to be created easily by designers - all of which communicate a mood or message. ...read more.

Conclusion

He talks about the advantage of being able to communicate at speed but not in real time. The distancing was obviously useful for him, and I think for many people who do not possess personal charisma or rhetorical skills. Communication on the net allows people to manipulate and experiment with identity. Yates calls this whole process a destabilising of traditional power relationships where gender, race are no longer important - ironically typing speed is, for it decides who speaks first in a conference. I include two of my own examples of Internet texts. The first one, "A Difficult Bugger", has the embedded text at the top. The register and tone is informal; the punctuation suggests conversation or even script form with its use of'!!!!! !', '????' and '*****'. There is a spelling mistake - braoside- and the use of 'would ya'. This is not written by a child but by a mature-years adult in the last year of a degree course. The second example entitled 'Scottish Devolution', is very informal. It contains three different size fonts to communicate emphasis and feeling - and, of course, the obligatory spelling mistake, 'trulely': so much for Scot's education. One feels that extrovert ending of 'Amen' and 'Hallelujah' is more likely on screen - at a distance - than were the person face to face in conversation. Again, note the amount of embedded text almost outweighs the writer's own words. Oh brave new world that hath such technology in it. I could put into action what Yates calls 'hypertext' and import a clip from an encyclopaedia and maybe some music to accompany it to end this essay but I think I'll just end with a full stop. 1 ...read more.

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