Subject Material

Facebook Will Corrupt Your Language

Published: 16.08.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Is it ok just to be understood – or should there be some rules that will regulate the language we use to communicate? Young people don’t seem to think so. Studies concerning the language used on social media like Twitter and Facebook clearly show that users show no respect for basic rules of spelling and vocabulary. Are you familiar with this trend? Can you give some examples of this on-line lingo?

The New Language

Facebook Will Corrupt Your LanguageSo what does this mean? Is this a sort of new Cockney, the London slang which it has been suggested was invented by criminals to keep the police from keeping track of their mischievous activities or by vendors working together to cheat their customers. Well, it may not be that serious and dubious, but the trend definitely challenges traditional rules of grammar and spelling. Gradually, it will most certainly rub off on your everyday language. And, what is worse, it may pop up in your school work with unwanted consequences. There are still those who don’t go along with the slogan: Anything goes as long as you make yourself understood.

Secret Language

facebook logofacebook logo
Opphavsmann: Facebook
According to researchers (, many young people deliberately distort their internet language to keep their activities secret from their parents and other adults. They invent new phrases and creatively misspell words to keep the adults from understanding what is written on the site.
Abbreviations and misspellings are difficult to understand for those who don’t belong in the in-group. If youngsters simply don’t want their parents to know what they are up to during the week-end, they can encode messages and use colloquialisms as a smoke screen to keep their parents in the dark. Is it all right to create your own on-line lingo and communicate secretly within your net-community?


Check the links below and then do the tasks. 

  1. As you see in the first link, Denmark has taken measures to prevent this language development affecting the Danish language. Do you think this will help? Why / why not?
  2. At the end of this article it says that there are still those who don’t go along with this. Who might that be – and what can they do?
  3. How important do you think correct spelling and grammar are in communication? Why?
  4. What do you think about young people using coded language to cover up what they are doing?

Cockney Rhyming Slang


Cash machine with both Cockney and Standard English textCash machine with both Cockney and Standard English text
Fotograf: Raphael G. Satter
As mentioned in the text, the Cockney slang emerged as a sort of secret language in London. Gradually, it spread to other groups and is now usually connected to traditional working class settings in East London.

The “rules” are quite complicated.You pick a common saying or a couple of words that usually go together and which rhyme with the word you want to replace/keep secret; like stairs/“apples and pears”, hips/“fish and chips”, nice/"cup of tea, sausage and a slice". Then you replace the word you want to keep secret not with the rhyming word, but with the other word/words associated with it in the common saying.

For example:

  1. If you want to say that somebody ran down the stairs, you could say: "He ran down the apples." ("Pears" rhymes with stairs, the common saying is “apples and pears”. Then you replace "stairs" with the first word, which is "apples")
  2. If you want to say that something is not nice, you could say: "It's not my cup of tea." ("Slice" rhymes with "nice". The common saying is "cup of tea, sausage and a slice". Then you replace "nice" with the associated words "cup of tea".)

Can you explain these:

  • Use your loaf!
  • Have a glass of Calvin.
  • My plates are killing me!
  • Is that a new phone? Let's have a butcher's?

Here are some links to help you: ,