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Learning and the E-Generation by Lee Farrington-Flint, Jean D. M. Underwood

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Chapter Three Social Interactions and Written Communication

Introduction

Language plays a crucial role in our social communications and how we form meaningful interactions with others. While the current evidence suggests the possession of language remains a defining characteristic of what it is to be human. In some cultures the status of being a person is not attributed until language is acquired. Such is its importance, for example, in some African groups that a newborn child is termed a ‘kintu’ or ‘thing’ only becoming a ‘muntu’ or ‘person’ once some semblance of language has been acquired and developed (Fromkin, Rodman, & Hyams, 2013). However, it is not simply culture that shifts the goal posts as to the nature of language. Language has always been shaped by technology – the printing press is a case in point (Blake, 1969; Crystal, 2012). There is also a feeling that new digital technologies have accelerated that change, particularly with the rise in online communication tools and the sheer popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook. Undoubtedly, technology has had a profound impact not only on how we communicate but how we engage with new orthographic features of written text, particularly when communicating through social networking sites, instant messaging (IM) and text messaging. Many children enter school with an unprecedented amount of technological experience and skills that many parents lack, especially in the form of online communication and social ...

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