09 March 2016

The mutability of language (LOL!)

Despite the racy Kim Kardashian West hook, this article from the Atlantic (9 March 2016) provides an insightful analysis of the evolution of language -- specifically, the trajectory of LOL from e-text meaning "laughing out loud" to its now common use as a new form of punctuation.
So it’s not that LOL, strictly speaking, has gone the way of “ROFL” and “fleek” and “bae”—it’s not that LOL, as The Awl bluntly declared in writing about the Facebook study last year, has died. On the contrary: It is still vital. It is still common. It has simply, like so many other pieces of Internet slang, evolved to encompass more than its original meaning. As the linguist John McWhorter summed it up in 2013: “LOL isn’t funny anymore.”
The Atlantic's culture writer Megan Garber also provides many links to other examples of changing language-use, making this piece a treasure trove for thinking about language as part of culture.