How the internet is changing language

I was ever so slightly amused by this BBC News piece – How the internet is changing language. It’s based around a court case in which a naughty person from 4Chan is asked to explain all manner of internet language such as “rickroll”, and goes on from there to discuss some quite interesting stuff quite well – it’s worth at least a quick glance.

But what amused me was that courtroom scene, which brings back memories of an old Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch in which the judge kept interrupting the evidence to ask such questions as

And what is a digital watch?


And what is a video recorder?

but was quite well informed on models of blow-up dolls…

The implication of the article, and the point of the joke was that judges in particular and lawyers in general are a bit out of touch with modern life and more than a little clueless. While this may be true in many cases, the boring reality is that the transcripts of trials are used in legal cases for years, decades and even centuries afterward[1], and it’s therefore a good idea that things are defined for the benefit of future generations who may have forgotten digital watches and LOLCATS. Rickrolling is probably safe, though.[2]

[1] Case law is very important, at least in UK law…
[2] No, I’m not going to do it. Too obvious.