In a recent lesson with Pierre we read some tweets together by the CNN correspondent NicoleLapin.It was Pierre’s suggestion that we look at her twitter page because he was having somedifficulty understanding the tweets.This is the first time that I had used Twitter in class, although I had encouraged another student tosign up for twitter and to follow the Swedish tourism office, because he is shortly going on holidayto Sweden.Although this wasn’t a planned activity with twitter, it did lead to some interesting observationsabout the potential of twitter for the language classroom.
Twitter English – The Differences
The English used in microblogging services such as Twitter seems different from that used inordinary blogging or elsewhere on the web.
Twitter English (TwEnglish / Twitterese) is different from normal English and differenteven from text messaging. As such, reading TwEnglish is a skill in itself.
: The spelling may be different – although it doesn’t seem to be vastlydifferent from emails or note taking (with a pen). An example is “ya” in one of Nicole Lapin’stweets
SMS style contractions
@ & #
: use of @ for intended recipients and # for tags
: There are changes in grammar that can be found in tweets (probablybecause of the need to be concise).David Crystal’s blog mentions how the
progressive passive is used in Twitter.
Tweets are anyhow different from longer writing because of the lack of context and aboveall the brevity of the communication.
: Twitter is clearly all about the conversation and so the lessonnaturally led to following the original tweets that Nicole Lapin was responding to.
: there is usually very little context (within the tweet itself) from which towork out the meaning of tweets. However, there are ways to gain a context, suchas following the links within the tweets and tracing back through theconversations.