Nigel J. Ross

The K Factor

Most disciplines seem to have their "K factors", though linguistics has so far been an exception. Now a language-related K factor has surfaced, kindled by Italian text messages and the influence of English. Italian youngsters today often write amiko (instead of amico, friend), ki (instead of chi, who) and kiave (instead of chiave, key). The letter K is popular because it is "Englishly" modern and because it is short - every letter counts when it comes to sending text messages on mobile phones. Some Italian linguists are predicting that the K factor is on the verge of revolutionising Italian spelling. The development is being debated by people in various walks of life in Italy, even making the front page of top-selling newspapers: the K factor, is it revolution or kaos?

published in English Today (Vol 19/1, January 2003), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

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English Today
(editor: Dr Tom McArthur)
Cambridge University Press
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email: English Today
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