Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Allow me to back up a smidge here and tell you how I arrived at this point. Approximately five years ago, my friend sent me a bombardment of "text messages" riddled with acronyms that I did not understand, misspellings and what I perceived to be the strangest uses of punctuation that I had ever encountered. These texts looked something like this at their most benign:
Haha ROLF hope ur hvin gd time 2nite :)
And, texts such as these just about gave me an aneurysm:
hv to b hm bc BF cumin cnt go out ;)~ ill call u l8r
My first reaction to these texts was wide-eyed, slightly open-mouthed, knit-brow perplexity. I was somewhat offended, not only by the fact that her specific messages blatantly conveyed sexual remarks, but she knew damn well:
1) I had no clue what many of the acronyms meant;
2) I did not have text messaging as part of my cellphone package, so would have to pay 10¢-a-pop for this tripe;
3) I was an English major who used punctuation for the traditional uses for which these marks were intended (to mimic patterns of speech);
4) There was so much MISSING punctuation and improper contractions;
5) I did not then, nor would I ever, have any interest in her relationship with her creepy, effeminate, emo boyfriend.
In essence, I felt old at 33, unhip and disconnected. I felt as if I'd never catch up.
Flash forward to the present and I now view these past texts as a form of orientation. I have a text plan included in my cellphone package, as well as Facebook and twitter accounts with the requisite "What are you doing?" status updates. I consistently receive and review communications that often contain what I deem to be the most regrettably heinous abuses of the English language I have ever known from some of the most intelligent, educated, well-rounded and socially dedicated members of my family, friends and colleagues.
I am an amateur orthographer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthography). As such, my conflicts with these matters are based in scientific thinking, rather than morality. Have I caught up? I really don't know. Maybe, in deed, but not in thought process. You might ask me if I have ever used ":)" to convey that I was smiling? The answer would be yes, I used this for the first and last time on a twitter post a couple of days ago (I'm still feeling itchy about it). Have I ever used ":(" to convey sadness? I think the title of this post says it all. I am truly conflicted as to what stance I should personally take in defense of, or against, these layers of incongruous meaning created with the text message format. Is this a fast-moving creation of patois where everyone participating has a say at in what colorful embellishments and components of language(s) are stitched together into an ever-evolving state of definition and redefinition? Or, is language being severely bastardized in this genre where everyone participating has their turns at beating it with the ugly stick, making it low and common?
If you have read this post and have a viewpoint you would like to discuss, I am extremely interested to hear what you may be thinking about these matters. As it stands, I feel disheartened by people's inattention and deliberate misuses of grammar in the instant message/email genre. But, that's not to say I object to the current and future forms of communication (otherwise, there would be no point to participating). I fully realize that absolutely none of us have a perfect grade in adherence to the rules in these formats and I am extremely interested in the path that language is taking into the future. Please be thoughtful if you comment and I politely ask that you refrain from baseless personal attacks. I'm greatly interested in what YOU think. Where does my perspective differ from yours, where is there alignment and where are the tangents? What are some related topics? I'm all ears!