Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Language Lover is... blogging about Facebook

I spend far more time on Facebook than a person of my age and lifestyle can really justify, and one of my favorite five-second diversions is changing my "status" to whatever I feel describes me accurately in the moment. A sign of self-absorption, to be sure, but fun nonetheless.

One challenging feature is that Facebook automatically inserts the word "is" after your name, which creates a limitation that users deal with in various ways. Some of my friends ignore the word entirely, creating statuses like, "Jane is can't wait for the weekend!" which I find mildly annoying. Still others try to change the system from within; there is a group called "Petition to Get Rid of 'is' from Facebook Status Update" to which I do not currently belong, but have thought of joining.

In most cases I see the mandatory inclusion of "is" as an opportunity to develop flexibility in my writing. For example, "Jane can't wait for the weekend!" could easily be recast as "Jane is eagerly anticipating the weekend!" I would, however, like to see the removal of "is" simply to facilitate status updates in foreign languages. With the number of Facebook users in non-English-speaking countries, this seems like a good step toward global user-friendliness. I did have a buddy living in Austria who once wrote "Dan is t ...", which I suppose worked to a degree, but any language other than German and you're out of luck.

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