Review by Choice Review
Parents and teachers have all sorts of anecdotal evidence that shows young people's writing has deteriorated in recent years--and those who make such observations often cite electronic communication media as a cause. Providing both qualitative and quantitative data, Baron (linguistics, American Univ.) clearly demonstrates that new media "are not the cause of contemporary language attitudes and practices but, like signal boosters, they magnify ongoing trends." Surveys of convenience samples are usually suspect, but college students, as early adopters of the technology, are the ideal population for this research. Other resources, David Crystal's Language and the Internet (CH, Apr'02, 39-4397) among them, have examined new media's impact on language, but Baron raises two new, and far more important, issues. The first is whether there is a danger inherent in an attitude that precision in written language is unnecessary. The second issue is what happens to a society when electronic communication makes it possible to be always accessible and to devote endless effort to controlling social contact. This is a rich and accessible treatment of an important topic. Summing Up: Essential. All readers, all levels. D. Caristi Ball State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.