Talking Text and Talking Back: ‘‘My BFF Jill’’ from Boob Tube to YouTube

Talking Text and Talking Back: ‘‘My BFF Jill’’ from Boob Tube to YouTube

       Graham M. Jones (Princeton University) and Bambi B. Schieffelin (New York University)

This article, published in 2009, is about a American telecom commercial and its                     metalinguistic comment online.

      I. Background 

In 2007, young people from 13 to 17 in US send and receive 1742 messages a month on average, compared to 790 for 18-to-24-year-old. And, 42 percent of teenagers can type when blindfolded. Some of the most iconic features in text messages are the following

       1. Initialism 

         Ex. LOL → Laugh Out Loud

        2. Omission of nonessential letters (Especially vowel)

        Ex. Love → lv

       3. Substitution of homophones

        Ex. b4 Before
As text message became more and more popular, it also raised a question. How much impact texting will have on speech?

      II. AT&T and its commercial “BFF Jill”

     This series of commercial was released by AT&T, the largest telecom company in                 US. It Promote its five-dollar unlimited texting package by Depicting a white, middle-             class, American mother having trouble dealing with texts

III. Analysis
       By eroticizing Beth Ann’s speech, mass media tried to demoralize text talk.                           Parents struggled understanding text talk. Here's an example in the commercial.
                 Mom in the commercial misused AYL (are you listening) for RUL. 
          It also dealt with some gender issue in the commercial. Women were expected to speak properly as they’re obligated to socialize their children. And while females were depicted as  “talking too much”, man in the commercial seemed uncommunicative.

      IV. Youtube

     Youtube, known for its interactive character, is created in 2005. It expands the life of TV        commercial. It also encourages people to adapt the existing videos. Here are some              examples. 


      V. Comments

       One of the most iconic feature of Youtube is that it allows user to post comment on               the video. Some claimed that YouTube’s comment section is the most “loud” and                   "dumb" corner online. Majority of the comments are short, positive and relative                       formulaic.
          However, some of comments still wroth our discussion. Following is a comment                     posted by the same user. Watch the different language she used.
         lol … i--- > i do !! att  ----- > all the time iif --- > if it is fun lol.
         unclejimbo, I completely disagree, but you can parent you children that that, with                  abuses of smacking and physical attacking, and politely be pumpled in to the state                prison for child abuse!
         When she is arguing with another user, she shifts to a relative more formal and                    standard English in order to make a point.
         Here's another example. 
         IT’S NOT FUNNY!! In ten years that is how people will talk. It will either start in                      America or Japan, and the kids will talk like that using their vocal apparatus! Teacher            will be forced to teach strange new language……
         Man… I really don’t give a shit anymore… So stfu smf, ysaslf
         When he lost an argument, he change into a relative non-standard English in order to          make himself more aggressive.
         VI. Conclusion
      “verbal art is a form of creative metalinguistic play with the power to affect social                    reality.”
      There is a direct connection between the ad’s poetic deployment of texting and the              critical discussion about texting language they have occasioned. 
         "the verbal ingenuity associated with texting—and talking text—should
                be viewed not as evidence of linguistic decline, but rather in terms of the reflexive,
                metalinguistic, sophistication it necessarily presupposes and potentially promotes."