TED Talks: John McWhorter on Why Texting is Good for the Brain

Do you hate or love the lingo we use while texting? Do the grammatical inaccuracies irk you, or do you delight in the weird way we shorten words and create new ones? In this eye-opening talk from TED 2013, linguist John McWhorter discusses the way texting is revolutionizing the way our brains process language. He calls texting “fingered speech,” and argues that it is an entirely new language that our minds process like speech but enable by typing. Instead of killing language, like many people view the new sloppy-looking writing of texting, McWhorter reveals that texting represents an entirely new way of writing and communicating, and argues that it’s good for our brains. This refreshing, funny and engaging talk reveals that something as mundane as texting is “a linguistic miracle happening right under our noses.”

Recommended Reading:

The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, John McWhorter (Harper Perennial, 2003)

power-of-babel-coverIf you’re interested in learning more about the ways we think about language, McWhorter’s The Power of Babel is a good place to start. It’s a survey of the development of language over time, and delves into the mechanics of language’s changeability without being too confusing for the layman.

 

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