Welcome to the English language 2.0. It fucking sucks.
The growing popularity of text messaging and Twitter has brought along a slew of LOL’s, BTW’s and ROFL’s that has those of us who appreciate good writing wanting to shoot ourselves.
What started with a flirtatious wink ;) has quickly developed into an epidemic that is compromising the integrity of our beautiful lexicon: The English Language.
It pisses me off, so I’m going to go on a bit of a rant.
English is under attack, and it’s important we take this seriously. The words we choose, the colloquialisms, the diction and the vernacular are important. Whether you articulate yourself like an adult or you use smiley face emoticons says a lot about who you are as a person.
As much as I would love to simply blame Twitter or Kim Kardashian, English has been deteriorating for Centuries.
Dr. Robert Millar, Senior lecturer in linguistics at Aberdeen University, suggests the attack on the Queens Proper English goes back far before the Internet. Millar claims, “Abbreviations like gr8 have been used in languages for centuries—there are examples even from the time of Egyptian hieroglyphics.”
Indeed, the practice of abbreviating words is nothing new. In the days of pay-per-character telegraphs, people would use as few words as possible to keep the price down.
Furthermore, the business world has been using ASAP, FAQ, and FYI for decades.
Hell I’m guilty as well. Often time, I will add an afterthought to a letter by writing PS. Most would argue there is nothing wrong with an acronym every now and then, but a line is crossed when the reader has to painfully decipher a translation. I often find myself scratching my head at this kind of crap:
This is a crude dialect that bastardizes letters and numbers to generate ultra-abridged “words.” In its most simple form, one would take “text” and truncate it to a less appealing “txt,” which apparently saves time. Vowels are overrated anyway, right?
The goal of this new SMS language is to use as few characters as possible to communicate a comprehensible message. It doesn’t obey or follow standard grammar, punctuation or spelling. It’s no-holds-barred. It’s annoying as hell.
At times, I’ll look at a perfectly constructed sentence and become lost in a paralysis of nostalgic longing. I think, that’s what the English language is supposed to be: A mesmerizing ballet of words laced together with grammar, capitalization and (God forbid) punctuation! Not a mess of inarticulate short forms in 140 characters or less.
Some argue we have cleaned up the English language. Stripped away the unnecessary layers and created a more modern means of communication. I disagree.
Really interesting approach, though I think one that’s highly prescriptivist, linguistically speaking. I think viewing certain types of languages as being indicative of intelligence vs. stupidity is ultimately reductionist, as far as something so living and breathing as English goes.
Where I think we need to be worried is that the colloquial culture surrounding the popularization of things like shorthand speech, abbreviation, etc., has created a situation where it is viewed as “odd” or “abnormal” to type or speak properly. I’ll often get people pausing me in mid-speech to say “you talk funny” or “why do you use X or Y type of word?” And while that’s certainly disconcerting, I think the approach you’re taking here further fuels the binary that’s at the root of the problem: smart people talk like X and “normal” people talk like Y.
I think part of loving language is watching it stretch and take in a new “normal,” all while positively preserving what you love about it by producing content (in speech, and writing) that upholds what you’d like it to be. Instead of this “out with the old, in with the new,” or – in the case for which you’re arguing – “out with the new, in with the old,” battle, why not embrace that there’s a place for both?
Eli: It’s not really an approach, it’s just a rant. I’m fed up with the way many people write on the Internet and through text messaging.
Much how people interrupt you mid-speech to say ‘you talk funny’ – I often have friends criticize me for using proper grammar and punctuation in text messages.
I do enjoy watching language ‘stretch’ as you say, but I find it difficult to see Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian leading the way.