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Why Do You Wanna ?

  1. Jan 22, 2005 #1


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    Why Do You "Wanna"?

    In one of the other forums just now, I saw someone use "wanna" as a contraction for "want to", and it reminded me that I've been wondering about just how this usage comes about in written English, on the Net particularly.

    I grew up in the midwestern USA and have lived in the southeastern USA for the past twenty years, with a brief interlude in upstate New York. For me, "wanna" is common enough in casual spoken English that I don't notice it. I use it myself in normal casual speech. Nevertheless, until a couple of years ago, I don't think I had ever noticed anyone use "wanna" in written English, except as a conscious literary device, imitating casual or dialect speech in a novel or short story, or when quoting someone in a newspaper or magazine article.

    Then, sometime during the past few years, I noticed some people using "wanna" when asking questions in programming-related Usenet newsgroups. For example, in comp.lang.c++, someone might ask, "I wanna know how how to..." Since then, I've noticed it regularly in other technical newsgroups and forums, including these forums.

    However, I haven't noticed it in the more "social" and hobby-oriented newsgroups and forums that I visit. As it happens, most of these (the ones that I visit, at least) are populated with native English speakers, I think. Also, I think most of the participants are in their late 20's or older.

    As another data point, I've never seen any of my (college) students use "wanna" in writing, even in casual e-mail to me. Of course, they may consciously avoid that sort of thing with professors even if they use it among themselves. And kids in my part of the USA tend to be slightly behind some other parts of the country with respect to the latest trends in general. And we have very few foreign students at my college.

    So... is this "wanna" thing coming from non-native English speakers who have picked up on it in speech and carried it over into their writing? Or is it a new trend among native speakers that just hasn't washed over my part of the USA yet? If so, is it a USA-specific thing, or does it come from some other part of the English-speaking world?

    I thought it might be an IM-related thing, along with other abbreviations like "u" and "r", but somehow that doesn't seem plausible. "Wanna" seens to be almost as much work to type as "want to", and takes up almost as much space.

    I thought this might be a good place to ask because I know we have people from all over the world here, both native and non-native English speakers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2005 #2
    I sometimes use improrper english for fun, maybe other people do the same. I mean who wants to speak/write in formal English. These people sound very stiff and serious, to me anyways. Now if I wanna talk like I'm relaxed and just chillin, well then I'll change my words and the way dey written to indicate that I be relaxed, or cool. I'll also use contractions and stuff, and words like "stuff." I usually base my writing/speech on who the audience is and what the purpose is. I am not sure why someone would write wanna on a c++ forum if they were asking a serious, need help, question, but had they used formal english, we would have fewer things to discuss.
  4. Jan 22, 2005 #3
    Improrper? :wink:. Hehe. Personally, I use slang (or improper English anyway) all the time and I don't see a problem with it (can you class "wanna" as slang?). The only time I don't is if I have to write in formal English (essays and stuff). Although, I do hate when people get mixed up between "you're" and "your" and stuff like that.
  5. Jan 22, 2005 #4
    yeh, u aint nefer heard of improrper? I umm, did that on purpose, for fun, thats it :cool:

    edit... here is an old thread that goes into some of the same stuff, not sure what the conclusion was, or if we were even looking for a conclusion.

    Random annoyance at modern colloquial language.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2005
  6. Jan 22, 2005 #5


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    I find that the majority of people using words like "gonna" and "wanna" speak English as a second language and don't realize that they aren't real words.

    Reading "wanna", "gonna", "could of", etc... is like scratching your fingernails across a blackboard.

    If you are in a very casual, joking conversation and you want to be funny, use of these words is ok because no one is taking what you are saying seriously anyway. I would never use these words in an academic or serious conversation of any type. It makes me wonder why the person is using slang. Perhaps they don't know any better?
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2005
  7. Jan 22, 2005 #6


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    Okay,i wanna ask u a question and i ain't gonna take "no" for an answer:"What's the big deal??"Why would it bother u to see Grammar English torn apart in writin'?? :tongue2:


    P.S.English rulz... :tongue2:
  8. Jan 22, 2005 #7
    English is my second language! You're eeevviiilll.... or perhaps just Evo. *laughs* Ahem. Yep...

    People that use these words when they write, probably just translate it straight from their day-to-day speech. Well, sometimes it's slightly entertaining when these words are used in a mocking way.
  9. Jan 22, 2005 #8


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    The gap separating styles of spoken and written language is fast closing.

    Meaning can be conveyed, while speaking, through intonation, appropriate pauses, expressions, gestures, and other devices that are not accessible to written language. Written language tries to make up (more so now than before), by using italics or bold fonts or underlines, but such formatting does not go very far. So, there will be a loss of meaning (or an inefficiency of communication) if written language were to mimic spoken language. Hence, the need for two different styles. This was made clear to students in years gone by.

    However, another criterion that determines the optimal writing style (one that conveys ideas with least ambiguity) is the comfort zone of the reader. Aren't readers more likely to discern intent if the style used is more familiar to them ?

    The IM culture is definitely another part. While "wanna" is hardly a contraction, it is more identifiable with the generation that uses IMs. Unconsciously, phraseology that is rarely used in spoken language is assigned a label of "uncoolness".

    Of course, there's also the deliberate use of colloquialism to set a tone. While for some this involves conscious effort, we seem to be evolving in a direction that's making it unconscious. :frown:
  10. Jan 22, 2005 #9
    Umm, yeah.. I think everybody realizes they aren't real words..

    The words are often used in spoken English, and I'm sure those using them on the internet do for the sake of informality.
  11. Jan 22, 2005 #10


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    I try to write properly all the time. That explains why half of my posts are edited and contain the word "Note" at the bottom.

    I like using the note option because it is normally a statement that doesn't quite fit with what I just said. Sometimes I use it to directly tell you what I'm thinking so it is not misleading.
  12. Jan 22, 2005 #11
    Most of the time I like to be proper in my posts, but I think wanna is quickly becoming its own word.
  13. Jan 22, 2005 #12


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    Not that this has much to do with the thread, but I am reminded of a little story I read. It seems that John and Paul were polishing their rendition of a song they were writing called "She Loves You" at Paul's father's house. The elder McCartney overheard the lyrics, and suggested they change the "yeah yeah yeah" bit to "yes yes yes." John and Paul thought that was ludicrous, and refused to make the change.
  14. Jan 23, 2005 #13


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    I hope not, it reminds too much of a whining child. "I don't wanna" :grumpy:
  15. Jan 23, 2005 #14


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    That's exactly the context I use it in! Or else I use it to be really playful. Otherwise, it doesn't sound right to speak, let alone type "wanna."
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