It seems that I’ve gotten myself something of a reputation for being a little bit clumsy… When handling mugs of tea at least! In fact, whenever anyone else has a mishap whilst walking with a cup of tea – they’ve done a Katie.
Todays victim of the clumsy was Rich. And of course, a reference to myself was made at the time of spillage – and without much thought, I responded with ‘Lol!’.
An expression which was instantly met with vague ridicule and a mixture of mild shock and disgrace once I’d revealed that ‘lol’ had now been officially inducted in to the english oxford dictionary.
‘You know it’s bad when you’re talking text talk…’
Is it though?
Everyone knows that language has evolved over the years. Thou, Thee and Thine have been largely replaced byyou, me and mine. And I defy you to read a shakespearean era text and completely understand it.
So, is the introduction of ‘lol’ into current accepted speech not just a continuation of this evolution?
The meaning of ‘lol’ itself has already gone through an evolutionary process. Upon it’s introduction it was anacronym typically standing for ‘Laugh Out Loud’ or occasionally ‘Lots Of Love’.
But today, it’s meaning is different. People don’t put ‘lol’ on the end of an instant message because they are actually laughing. It has lost the literality of its meaning and become more of a mark of politeness. It allows the recipient of the message to understand the intentions behind the message, which otherwise may be taken for an ulterior motive. It allows for a freer and more accurate expression through text – doing a job much akin to the exclamation mark or the elipsis.
In vocal linguistics it has come to mean something different again. Almost the opposite of its original purpose. If someone says ‘lol’ (as a free standing word; not enunciating each letter as an acronym) it means ‘yes, I understand the joke, but I’m not actually laughing at it’.
Modern language is all about what’s popular. We phase words in and out of our vocabulary often without even realising it. It adapts to trend, much like our choice of clothes, cars, hairstyle and even graphics.
While some language conservatives my be calling it a travesty – I believe it to be simply another step in our language evolution. I for one won’t be surprised in a time that acceptabley denotes ‘see‘ as ‘c‘ and ‘you‘ as ‘u‘…
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