Millennials have earned praise—and criticism—for bucking tradition and forging their own way.
And now, the generation has invented a new form of written English tailored for the internet, writes Rachel Thompson for Mashable.
"Something exciting" happens when millennials write, says Lauren Fonteyn, an English linguistics lecturer at the University of Manchester. Millennials "break the constraints" of proper spelling and grammar to evoke body language, tone, and voice volume in written English, says Fonteyn. Thompson spoke to several linguistics experts to decode the non-traditional rules of millennial English.
Rule 1: Capitalize for emphasis. Standard grammar capitalizes proper nouns, people, and the first word in a new sentence. Millennials, however, capitalize words to add emphasis, humor, or irony, says Fonteyn.
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Rule 2: Punctuate for tone. Millennials punctuate to reflect tone of voice, says Ruth Page, a senior lecturer in applied linguistics at Birmingham University. In millennial English, a period at the end of a text indicates anger, while the absence of a period is neutral, says Fonteyn. Similarly, the two-dot ellipses means "please elaborate," while the three-dot ellipses denotes an awkward silence. And the absence of any punctuation mimics the way someone speaks when they're excited, she adds.
Rule 3: Add digital elements. Millennial English incorporates elements that can't be conveyed through spoken volume, cadence, or tone—like the trademark symbol, writes Thompson. "When TM is added to a phrase, it ADDS something you can’t do in a regular conversation," says Fonteyn. Millennials don't just play with spoken language, they experiment with visual elements, she adds (Thompson, Mashable, 4/9).
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