Writing for the Web: A Few Words on Language7. June 2012 - 19:47 — Dejan Georgievski
It is time for us to finally move to the main subject of this series of articles – writing for the web. More specifically, by that we shall mean reporting on the web.
Since the emergence of internet, and especially Web 2.0 – its interactive version that opened the internet to so-called „user-generated contents“, a debate started on the language used on the internet, on the way information was presented and transmitted, grammar and syntax, the format, genres if you prefer, of reporting articles that information sites will use to present the information.
As far as the language is concerned, many people – with feminist and independent culture activists leading the way – considered language and grammar in general as a part of time-encrusted traditional cultural forms, dictated by patriarchal structures, and they feel that changes are needed in that regard. They are fighting those restrictions of language and grammar renouncing, for example, the use of capital letters, interpunction signs or rules of grammar.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the linguistic purists who are „appalled” by and fight the introduction of new words into the language in this age when many new ideas and things are impossible to express in our languages, lacking appropriate words.
Now, to return to the issue of the audience you choose to address primarily, the advice would be that the your language has to be tailored for that audience. If you believe that your audience, your readers/visitors will understand you, have the freedom to be creative in the way you use the language.
Then again, if you intend to speak to a wider audience, you will have to adapt your language to that wider public. It means that you will use a language that is simpler, easy to understand, that will follow the rules of grammar and standards of written language. If you use a word that is new to your readers, a word you are not sure they will understand, offer them a short definition in brackets.
That is briefly about the language on this occation. Of course, we will come back to it later in this series.
As far as the form and structure of the text, especially regarding reporting sites, there is a widely accepted consensus that the internet will use the forms, structures and genres commonly used in print journalism. Why, you may ask? We shall discuss that in the next article.
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