Language Barriers

While Associated Press style writing is of the utmost importance for The Outlook’s editors, the group also finds itself prone to using some of the 21st Century’s less than academic language. John McHorter of Time wrote that despite being considered a destruction of the English language, text lingo and changes in slang are more related to spoken language than the written word. 

McHorter said, “Texting is developing its own kind of grammar. Take LOL. It doesn’t actually mean ‘laughing out loud’ in a literal sense anymore. LOL has evolved into something much subtler and sophisticated and is used even when nothing is remotely amusing.”

For the editorial staff, many of the members have their own favorite words to use in casual language. One staffer was exuberant in his/her support of the word “hella”. He/she said, “I really think more people should use that in casual conversation! I tend to use it when describing something particularly surprising, saying something like ‘that was hella crazy.’”

Other editors noted that they use more generic words such as “like” or phrases such as “you know” much too frequently. “Literally” was also among The Outlook’s list of the most overused words in casual conversation, even if it doesn’t mean what its literal definition describes.

International travel had an impact on one staff member. He/she said that he/she would like to see “lovely used more often,” as is the case when he/she studied in London. “Lovely really is such a nice adjective. It sounds a lot nicer with a British accent but beggars can’t be choosers I guess,” the staffer said.

Not all words are created equally though, and The Outlook made that clear. “Anyone who uses the word ‘thot’ should be arrested and thrown in prison. I hate that term more than anything in the entire world. And I hate a lot of things,” said one editor. According to Urban Dictionary, a “thot” is a demeaning term for females who exhibit certain sexual behavior.

“On fleek” also found its way onto The Outlook’s hitlist, which is a casual synonym for something being highly manicured or perfected. Supposedly, its origins date back to Viner Peaches Monroee in a video about her finely groomed eyebrows.

None of The Outlook members have a noticeable accent, beyond occasional slippage into a “Jersey” or “New York” one. One editor said, “I speak certain words with an annoying Jersey/New York accent. It’s regional and certain letters are more obvious with the accent such as my a’s. I really hate it and especially for the field I want to go into, I have to learn to not have any sort of regional accent at all.”

Despite some lack of notable accents, The Outlook has a few members who, while not fluent, can understand other languages. Italian is one such language, with others having taken a seemingly endless number of years of Spanish in middle and high school with less than favorable results. One editor even has a background in self-studying Japanese. “I started teaching myself when I was bored one summer. I read that learning a language aids in strengthening your memory, so I figured trying a language with written characters rather than letters would be worth a shot,” the editor noted.

At the end of the day, The Outlook largely uses text messaging as their preferred form of electronic communication, with Facebook Messenger coming in a close second. “I mostly text people because it seems to be the easiest. I feel like people check their texts more often than they check Snapchat or Facebook, so I think it’s the most efficient way of communicating digitally,” said one staff member.

Accompanying newer electronic forms of messaging are emojis, little ideograms or symbols that convey meanings, similar to smiley and unhappy faces. Emojis originated as the brainchildren of Shigetaka Kurata who worked at NTT Docomo, a Japanese mobile phone company. The Outlook staff said that the smiling, crying and ‘heart in the eyes’ emojis rank as their most used.  

A few more unique ones stood out though, notably the “chocolate swirl” or poop emoji. “My favorite emoji is the poop emoji, just because it’s so cute. It looks like a little chocolate ice cream swirl, but it’s adorable. And it’s smiling. I mean, come on,” said one staff member. The monkey covering its eyes was also a more obscure favorite. One editor said it tops his/her list because, “I just think it’s cute and I seem to find a lot of uses for it.”