Who Run The (Linguistic) World?

The Toast’s recent article “Your Ability to Can Even: A Defense of Internet Linguistics” by Tia Baheri describes how women are leading internet linguistics and changing the way we communicate, one phrase as a time. Baheri writes, “…In the world of blogging and Internet writing, women are the creators of language. It is a realm in which women are not being socialized with already existing language but are doing the work of socializing and creating a community. Women dominate every important social media platform. Women outnumber men on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and account for 72% of all social media users. On Tumblr, where the number of men and women is roughly equal, women dominate the conversation.”

This is nothing new. Beyond deconstructed abbreviations, de-voweled turns of phrase, excessive vowels, explosions of exclamation marks and heart emoticons is an ancient past where women were the sole creators of entire written alphabets (Nushu in China, Hiragana in Japan), and more recently, the first programming language (COBOL by Admiral Grace Hopper), and a fictional language created for women to test a gender hypothesis (Laadan by Suzette Hadin Elgin). Women don’t just introduce and perpetuate new forms of language in print and type either, but IRL and in person (think Uptalk, Vocal Fry, Valley Girl Speak and other hotly contested kinds of slang and vocal patterns). So to answer our titular question: girls do. (And women, and drag queens!)