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j
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« on: March 14, 2023 @114.64 »

howdy - i've just been having an interesting conversation with folks on IRC on tone tags, and how they impact ease of communication, especially with learners of English.

which got me thinking: language has always and almost certainly will always change over time, including the introduction and deletion of different language features and types of speaking, though i've definitely noticed that there's a difference in opinions to this. some folks are all for change whilst others have their beliefs firmly rooted in what's right and wrong.

so what do you folks think? i've always been descriptivist (that is: all for language change), but it'll be interesting to see where that differs!!

p.s. here's a neat video Tom Scott filmed on the difference between prescriptivism and descriptivism in language
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2023 @426.62 »

Heya, linguistics degree here x]

First of all, of course you cannot halt natural language change.
And opposed to what some people might think, a conscious social movement to change language (see for example pronoun use or shunning of slurs) is also considered natural language change, as long as it happens naturally to native speakers and is adopted by a considerable amount of them. Language is defined by whatever native speakers do. Descriptivism does not mean that you "support language change" though; it's merely an approach to language studies that says "hey, language is meant to be described and analyzed by linguists as it exists naturally, not engineered or altered".

When it comes to tone tags, I just think that tone tags won't work on a larger scale even if they are adopted widely, since it seems to be a linguistic universal to use language components for exaggeration, sarcasm and irony anyway regardless of meaning.

Think about how the word "literally" came to mean its opposite, "figuratively", by the manner of exaggeration and irony. Or how people use clarifying statements like "Oh no really I mean it!" in an actually sarcastic way occasionally to mean the opposite. Or how some people use ":)" as a smiley ironically to communicate how depressed they are. There's thousands of examples of this.

I don't think tone indicators are safe from that, and if it gains larger traction, over time people will use tone indicators in subversive ways that defy their purpose. And language cannot be controlled in some way to "stop" that by agreeing really hard not to, that's not how language works as we earlier established.

Besides, I don't really see the need for it either, even knowing what they are usually used for. Detecting sarcasm or tone is, contrary to many online opinions, not entirely impossible to do for neurodiverse people or learners, although for many it is an actively learned instead of passively absorbed skill (my legally severely disabled girlfriend for example comfortably communicates like any neurotypical person these days simply since she has learned how to detect tone and meaning like any other actively learned skill). On the other hand, they take away all kinds of nuance, beauty in double meaning, and the point of jokes and punchlines as a whole if applied to all of language feverishly.

I don't think detecting tone and subversive meaning out of all things really is the impossible barrier for neurodiverse people and language learners as it is made out to be, and psycholinguistics as far as I can see also do not support this claim. I think it's a movement born out of frustration of young people that it takes longer to learn so that in the heat of activism it is portrayed as entirely impossible, unholily ableist and whatnot to not use or like them, even though it's typical modern social media flaming exaggeration most of the time (my girlfriend herself got bullied out of the internet over things like this, which is absurd because she is supposed to be the one who its for! :/). It just takes more time to learn the cues, and it's definitely not impossible.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2023 @431.24 by /home/user/ » Logged
doubleincision
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2023 @485.10 »

i dislike tone tags for a few reasons: they actively make communication less clear for people who are not native english speakers and people who use screen readers, there are so many of them that committing them to memory is an extra task in and of itself(which defeats the intention of making communication easier), they are often used sarcastically which completely negates the point of being beneficial to autistic people, and, with how lengthy character limits are on social media now, you can literally just say something like "i'm being sarcastic" if you want to clarify that you're being sarcastic.

also, this, 100 times:

I don't think detecting tone and subversive meaning out of all things really is the impossible barrier for neurodiverse people and language learners as it is made out to be, and psycholinguistics as far as I can see also do not support this claim. I think it's a movement born out of frustration of young people that it takes longer to learn so that in the heat of activism it is portrayed as entirely impossible, unholily ableist and whatnot to not use or like them, even though it's typical modern social media flaming exaggeration most of the time (my girlfriend herself got bullied out of the internet over things like this, which is absurd because she is supposed to be the one who its for! :/). It just takes more time to learn the cues, and it's definitely not impossible.

as an autistic person it feels more ableist to me to assume that i'm incapable of communicating without a total stranger holding my hand through the interaction, lmao. i don't need or want Special Phrases to talk to other people; i can simply ask someone what they mean if i don't understand. i don't think i know a single fellow autistic person who likes tone tags, and this is the most common complaint that i hear.
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2023 @583.55 »

Oh so this is what they are called!
I have only seem people use the /s (sarcastic) so I thought this was a standalone thing and not an entire subject.

I am not autistic therefore I cannot speak on that aspect but as someone whose main language is not english (and not any other germanic language either) this does add an extra layer of complexity.

We use english at work to speak mostly with brazilians and indians and we use emojis to demonstrate tone even if its a corporative environment, emojis are more of a standard thing since most people do own a mobile phone and use apps where the emojis are available.

Of course some emojis that require a bit more of previous knowledge may be lost on some people (like the infamous eggplant) but on my experience most non native speakers can tell the difference of:
" You did such a mess! 😫"  and  "You did such a mess!🤣" 
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2023 @374.29 »

Tone indicators can be useful in situations I think if there's a danger of a misunderstanding happening. But I'd never use them because I don't even have any idea what the letters mean lol. If someone puts a tone indicator in a message meant for me, well. It means nothing to me as I have no idea what those letters together are supposed to tell me. :ziped:

That being said. It's really annoying when you have places like Reddit where people can be very bad at reading the tone of message to the point that they will get very angry at an obvious joke just because it doesn't have /s at the end of it because they assume everything without /s is serious. Also, a non-native English speaker perspective: never ever have I found tone indicators necessary any more than in any other language. Sometimes misinterpretations about tone or intention happen even in your native language, and I have not found the situation much different in English.
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2023 @424.54 »

Tone indicators can be useful in situations I think if there's a danger of a misunderstanding happening.
And even then I feel that a so-called "repair sequence" is a more elegant solution: just being like "huh?", "you serious?" or "genuinely?" solves most misunderstandings.
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2023 @147.11 »


When it comes to tone tags, I just think that tone tags won't work on a larger scale even if they are adopted widely, since it seems to be a linguistic universal to use language components for exaggeration, sarcasm and irony anyway regardless of meaning.

X( from experience, this is already happening to me sorta. I feel like at one point it was a very friendly and good idea to use for friends amongst the net but my recent experiences with them have been bad. One time I joined a chat server my younger cousin invited me into and the person started using tone tags to basically just hide behind what they really meant.. (they would basically insult me and use a "/hj" (half-joke tag. uh yeah, hrm.)  A lot of my experiences with tone tags have been very malicious recently compared to how they were used in the past. It's quite saddening. Also the tone of a message can be so many and unexplainable, I don't think a lot of things can be categorized only a few tones. Even if you did have a tone tag it can still come off different to someone. Just my personal thoughts on the matter, I kinda refuse to use tone tags which might make me seem like a jerk to some people but I prefer it.

Quote
Besides, I don't really see the need for it either, even knowing what they are usually used for. Detecting sarcasm or tone is, contrary to many online opinions, not entirely impossible to do for neurodiverse people or learners, although for many it is an actively learned instead of passively absorbed skill (my legally severely disabled girlfriend for example comfortably communicates like any neurotypical person these days simply since she has learned how to detect tone and meaning like any other actively learned skill). On the other hand, they take away all kinds of nuance, beauty in double meaning, and the point of jokes and punchlines as a whole if applied to all of language feverishly.
I agree actually, I really hate some of the assumptions being made about neurodivergency recently especially when it comes to things like tone tags, empathy vs apathy, etc. It makes people think we are unable to experience and grow as people and a lot of young neurodivergent people i've met have been fueled by a lot of stereotypes things like "oh well i dont have empathy for humans" which is just, something i really think people should work on regardless.. its really important to practice empathy/sympathy as someone who is neurodivergent myself. Same goes for tone, I think most people can understand basic sarcasm and jokes and sometimes the need for certain tone tags feels downright infantilizing i dont need a  "/gen" since i can assume most things being said is genuine? Idk, if this all sounds too negative someone can give me their input.
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2023 @173.19 »

whoops! my RSS reader wasnt picking up all the feeds for this thread!

Descriptivism does not mean that you "support language change" though; it's merely an approach to language studies that says "hey, language is meant to be described and analyzed by linguists as it exists naturally, not engineered or altered".

it's interesting to hear a difference in definition here!! my lecturers have always defined the difference as being "words should be confined to X written by/in Y" or "language change is good, you should support language change in your essays" - i should probably raise that with them!

completely agree, though, that it's not impossible for neurodivergent folks to pick up on tone (and unfortunately the more theyre used the more likely someone will come along and subvert their purpose for humour or something similar!), but ive found that i think im a lot less good at differentiating sarcasm from a genuine statement and that this multiplies tenfold online. it's interesting to reflect on, though, because i think its slightly easier for me to determine the tone of friends online over people ive only just met, which sounds like common sense but isnt something id particularly considered because my friends and i use tone tags quite a lot for clarity

i hadnt realised they were so controversial too, though the same was true on IRC for some of the points raised here: it's difficult for learners of English to interpret their use. that being said, i find a lot of solace in relying on tags for communication, especially in myself using them: i find that i often think about how my tone is coming across so much that i miss conveying the message and then things get a little lost

ofc other folks may be different!!

I am not autistic therefore I cannot speak on that aspect but as someone whose main language is not english (and not any other germanic language either) this does add an extra layer of complexity.

We use english at work to speak mostly with brazilians and indians and we use emojis to demonstrate tone even if its a corporative environment, emojis are more of a standard thing since most people do own a mobile phone and use apps where the emojis are available.

this is something i thought about mentioning in my OP!! emojis are definitely a great way to convey tone, but i think theres a lot of generational difference (at least in the UK), regarding emojis and text more generally

im (relatively) young, so commenting for folks around my area that are of a similar age: emojis often have different meanings to me compared to what they mean to folks that are older that ive spoken to (there's exceptions to the rule ofc, and im not stereotyping!) - a frown face ( :( ) is often used for genuine sadness or as a way of empathising with the topic at hand whereas the :pensive: emoji is more representative of frustration or giving up on something (whereas this definitely isnt the case with some older folks ive spoken to)

either way, really interesting seeing people's interpretations of tone tags, their equivalents and uses socially :)
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2023 @349.73 »

And even then I feel that a so-called "repair sequence" is a more elegant solution: just being like "huh?", "you serious?" or "genuinely?" solves most misunderstandings.

it also feels so much more...human? to just ask someone what they mean. shortening thoughts and feelings into codewords feels like it removes so much human-to-human communication from the conversation; it feels impersonal and cold.

to me this is different from other forms of internet-born code words, like chatspeak, because chatspeak is shorthand for a phrase rather than a feeling. "omg" or "afk" don't feel impersonal to me because when i read it, my brain simply expands the letters into the full phrase. i can read the sentence: "omg, my mom needs the computer so i have to go afk for a while. ttyl!" and in my mind it reads basically the same way as "oh my god, my mom needs the computer so i have to go away from the keyboard for a while. talk to you later!"

with tone tags, on the other hand, what's being shorthanded is the literal emotion behind the sentence. when i talk to someone in text form, i want them to tell me how they're feeling with their words, i want to be able to have a genuine conversation with them, where it maybe takes some effort on my part to work out what they're talking about! i don't know why we need a whole code language designed to skirt around that effort, as if it's some kind of unbearable, impossible feat to just...talk to people.
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2023 @433.13 »

to me this is different from other forms of internet-born code words, like chatspeak, because chatspeak is shorthand for a phrase rather than a feeling.

and we still have "tone tag" equivalent chat words: like "fr" (for real), "srs[ly]" (serious[ly]), "jk" (just kidding)!

it's interesting to hear a difference in definition here!! my lecturers have always defined the difference as being "words should be confined to X written by/in Y" or "language change is good, you should support language change in your essays" - i should probably raise that with them!
I mean that definition is not exactly far off either.

The distinction is a historical one. In the distant past, "linguistics", as in the study of language, documenting what language is, how it is used, and all of its quirks, did not exist. Studying language was something all kinds of different disciplines did: psychologists, philosophers, literary critics and scholars, ... but language itself was not viewed as a phenomenon to be studied, instead it was a tool, to be forged, critiqued and improved. The great literary works, the word of God, mathematics, or even the Bible, were at some point viewed as the ideal language, and verbal spoken language by the masses was viewed as a crude approximation and imprecise imitation of that. So in that past, discourse about language was prescriptivist: they invented better, more "ideal and logical" languages, they wrote dictionaries and style guides to "preserve" and "improve on" language (all major dictionaries today are products of that), critiqued language change and lauded it as the downfall of social intellect, and these things were the jobs closest to that of a linguist today.

Today, we view language as something to be studied: a natural phenomenon of interaction and human society. To say that some language is better or worse than another is to a linguist like an ornithologist saying this or that bird is objectively better at being a bird than another. To say that a native speaker is speaking their own language "wrong" is akin to said ornithologist telling a bird in front of them that it shouldn't exist according to everything known about birds.
This is descriptivism, and linguistics has taken many steps over the last decades to get away from the written word and strict mathematical models, towards interactional and social analyses of language as it happens in real life.

Of course this world view implies that language change is a thing that does not have a negative value, but it doesn't mean that you think it's "good", you just think it's a property of this object of study; it's neither good nor bad from a scientific standpoint, it's just a fact of life. You can still think this or that change is stupid, but that's not a scientific opinion.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2023 @108.22 »

Speaking as someone who uses a few tone tags and has friends who uses tone tags as well, they tend to help us in particular, though i imagine for some folks it's definitely not really needed (and indeed, most likely is an issue for folk who dont speak english). I don't have any particularly strong arguments for them, so I'll just share how it goes with me and my friends.

We tend to have trouble with words in text, a lot of the time, we all kinda suck with communication but we do make lots of efforts to get better at it. Without going too much into personal details, all of us tend to have bad cases of anxiety and all that due to one reason or another. For us, having tone tags deffo helps make things easier for us with understanding each other and whether or not one of us is saying something sarcastic or jokingly.

Like dont get me wrong again we do make efforts to improve at communication, we just had sucked at it for a long time.

But also we dont use as many as those in that list, we only use like... I think five total? Didn't even know there were THAT many tonetags, goddamn
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2023 @668.02 »

But also we dont use as many as those in that list, we only use like... I think five total? Didn't even know there were THAT many tonetags, goddamn

I use tone tags myself occasionally. They're nice, although sometimes it feels as if people are over-complicating them. I was talking to a friend recently and they used "/hevj" in one of their messages, and I had to ask them what it actually meant. They told me it meant "Heavy Joke," and I'm thinking, "Why not just use /j?"
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2023 @693.75 »

I was talking to a friend recently and they used "/hevj" in one of their messages, and I had to ask them what it actually meant. They told me it meant "Heavy Joke," and I'm thinking, "Why not just use /j?"
I apologize in advance for this, but.. what in the sweet mother of hell is a heavy joke?? Is it using the slang term "heavy" as in.. deep in a psychological sense? Or heavy as in thoroughly saturated in jokey-ness like a piece of french toast that has been thoroughly soaked in egg? So many questions.. the amount of ambiguity completely diminishes any hope for efficient communication with anyone who hasn't already been informed of the actual meaning! The suffering this brings me is too great to even express!
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2023 @717.79 »

I don't have much to add besides a video, because from my (somewhat) unique autistic take, this video explains my feelings surrounding tone tags well. To a certain degree, some of them can be useful, but more often than not I find it easier to simply ask for clarification rather than sit confused about specific tone tags.

At most, I'll use /j to indicate that I'm joking over text with some of my autistic friends, just so that it's explicitly clear that I'm trying to be light hearted.

In any case, good video linked. Watch it if you're interested!
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« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2023 @197.97 »

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I was talking to a friend recently and they used "/hevj" in one of their messages, and I had to ask them what it actually meant. They told me it meant "Heavy Joke," and I'm thinking, "Why not just use /j?"
Dude I never even heard of that one before. Like IK there's a million of them now but this sorta further proves my point of how useless these actually are. Where in the world would you even use that!  :dunno:

Personally I'd only use /s and /j since they are actually useful in the context of text.  :wink:

It's really hard to discern tone from text so /s (sarcasm) and /j (joking) are kinda helpful. Though the majority of "tone tags" I've seen aren't even for tone or are more confusing than helpful. /hj (half joking) is my least favourite since while yes some part of whatever the person said being a joke is understood. You are forced to figure out what part of the text is the "joke" which gets harder the higher the word count. Which as an autistic person is a nightmare since it takes forever to figure out. There's also the chance that you could get the wrong idea! :tnt:

IMO I just think that /s and /j should be used because the rest aren't actually helpful and make communication with not only internet illiterate people harder but also disabled people as well. Not to mention the fact that for some reason people feel like they're forced to use them. (lets also not forget that I've seen people use tone tags to disabled people who already explicitly told them not to because they find it demeaning to them.)

TLDR: It's a lot better to just attempt to write the tone in the words if possible. Also to not have 1 million tone tags that aren't needed.
( /s and /j are fine IMO since they actually have a purpose.)
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