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One of the most important differences between man and animal is man’s ability to speak and make others understand him. Language is only possible because within each society, people agree to understand a particular pattern of sound in a particular way. For instance, all English speaking countries understand the meaning of the word ‘water’. According to Akindele and Adegbije, language is:
‘’A human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of units of sound (phonemes), word, morphemes, phrases, sentences and paragraphs or discourse’’ (1).This definition shows that language has often been identified as the most unique attribute of man. It is through language that human beings grasp and understand reality and transmit it from one generation to another. This view is buttressed by Blakar who asserts that “we actually live and behave in a world of language” (4).Fromkin and Chomsky citied in Fromkin and Rodman points out as saying that:
‘’When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence. The distributive qualities of mind that is so far as we know unique to man.’’ (1).
Yinka describes Language as “the medium or vehicle for conveying ideas, a system of arbitrary vocal symbols based on social cooperation; the totality of meaningful utterance in any given society” (15). Definitions of language are incomplete without reference to its communicative function; it is a fact that language is a major means of communication. It is used in human discourse to communicate effectively. Indeed, one important indication of one’s mastery of language is the ability to communicate in the language.
Lyonsobserves that it is difficult to imagine any satisfactory definition of language that does not incorporate some reference to the notion of communication. This means that whatever definition of language is given, it cannot but make reference to communication, because language is basically used to communicate.
Language is used in different social contexts, and different variables account for the peculiarity in which communication is carried out.The social media is one context where much communicationis carried out. In some context, whether formal or informal determines the way Language is used by the participants. The social media which is a 21stcentury phenomenon, which is growing and gaining more prominence globally, it is a social interaction among people in which they create, share, or exchange information, ideas, and picture/videos in virtual communities and networks.
The social media enables us to communicate with a much larger number of people on a global scale in a way we do at a local level. This is great because it means we are keeping friendship alive over great distances; it also increases the demands placed on an individual to keep a much larger number of relationships going simultaneously. An ever-increasing speed of communication, Facebook helps people communicate quickly, effectively and most importantly, efficiently because the writers exchange is concise and shared between all the friends theyare connected with, meaning that you only need to write them once. On twitter there’s a 140 character limit, so even if you are not against the clock you are quite literary forced to make the statement brief due to the number of people you have to reply as a result of character limitation. You are forced to employ other word formation processes; therefore rendering the language informal. Among the word formation processes employed is abbreviation that is the act of word formation using initial letters of a word and pronounced as a word.
Etymologically, the word abbreviation is from a Latin word “brevis” whichmeans, “Short”. Abbreviation is a letter or group of letters, taken from a word or words andemployed to represent the word for the sake of brevity. Furthermore, abbreviation can be defined as a shortened form of a word or phrase, usually, but not always, it consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation itself can be represented as abbr, abbrv, abbrev. In addition, abbreviation is a shortening by any method either intialism or acronyms; a contraction is a reduction of size by the drawing together of the parts
1.1 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
Social media has become an integral aspect of communication by human beings because people worldwide use it. However, students use it more, in the course of using the social media; language users tend to abbreviate words, so as to be fast in replying messages as well as not to stress the reader, also for secrecy. These abbreviations with time become a part of them and the danger is when it begins to reflect in their classroom writing exercises.
1.2 REASEARCH QUESTIONS
v What is the social media?
v What is abbreviation?
v What is formal writing?
v What are the common abbreviations that are visible in students writing?
v To what extent do these affect the content of the writing?
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Every writing is done with a purpose, this research is inclusive,the aim of this research is to find out how abbreviation in social media affects students in classroom writing that is writing for academic purposes.The objectives are:
v To investigate the common abbreviation in students writing.
v To find out how social media chart manifest in students classroom writing.
v To suggest possible solutions on how to avoid transferring abbreviations used in social media to classroom writing.
This research is going to serve as an eye opener to students to minimize the rate at which they abbreviate in social media so as to avoid using it unconsciously in classroom writing.
1.5 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION
This research is restricted to selected undergraduate students of Kaduna state university from across faculties. The research will focus on Facebook and twitter.
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