In Slater (2006) and Slater (2010), I reported that Pinnacle Sherpa has split into two languages. Modern Pinnacle Sherpa (MPS) has massively innovated new, media-
It turns out I was wrong. Partly.
Modern Pinnacle Sherpa is not used in all domains. Instead, it has become only a written language, and its written form has taken on a very interesting character, with respect to its modes of transmission and its graphemic properties.
Younger members of the Pinnacle Sherpa community spend a lot of time on the trails as trekking and mountaineering guides, separated from one another by great distances, with only intermittent mobile phone access for communication. Furthermore, when they are within range of mobile phone signals, these tend to be subject to terrain-
In this situation, it behooves the MPS user to resort to SMS services, and many have discovered that this method of communication is extremely efficient. So much so that it has become the preferred means of interaction among MPS users. In fact, MPS users now normally resort to texting one another, even when they are face to face. The language is rarely, if ever, spoken.
This might seem a bit unlikely, but a reminder of the prominent features of SMS may reduce the linguist’s initial feeling of incredulity. Essentially, the key factor is emoticons and other forms of rampant abbreviation and leetspeak, which enable MPS users to quickly and efficiently communicate both lexical and (more pressingly) evidential semantic categories.
So far so good, and in truth there might be nothing of great theoretical interest about a community whose primary modality for language use is technologically mediated. The same may be true of countless social networks of teenagers, the world over. Nonetheless, in view of the pervasiveness, which indeed approaches exclusivity, of this modality in the contemporary use of Modern Pinnacle Sherpa, we might be justified in referring to the language as “Mediated Modern Pinnacle Sherpa.” Thus, I will hereafter use the abbreviation MMPS.
But there is a further development in MMPS which is worthy of extensive study, and I have given it just that, investing literally hundreds of hours in Skype conversations, SMS contacts, e-mail, and other forms of mediated interaction, as has been my successful custom in conducting Pinnacle Sherpa fieldwork.
The fascinating development in MMPS is that, due to the pervasiveness of emoticons, and the need to employ legions of newly-
The implications of this development are far-
Ironically, though, it is precisely the popularization of technology
In this most modern of orthographic trends, then, it appears that Mediated Modern Pinnacle Sherpa is in the vanguard, leading the way towards the logographic future of all human writing.