Sunday, August 17, 2008

Save Our Language! (LOL)

News reports that text messaging is creeping into mainstream use likely has language purists everywhere running for the hills, rolling their eyes in horror. And those fearful types who are always first to warn of a coming (linguistic) apocalypse will surely do so again at the drop of a pen.

But wait a minute. Is this really such a “threat”? I don’t think so. Though not adctd2txt I certainly love to use it. As a means of saying what I want to say in as few keystrokes as I can say it, it fits the bill perfectly.

Unheard of and unused just a few short years ago, text messaging has gone from a standing start to being pretty much indispensable for many people. And yet if the doomsayers are to be believed, it is now poised to wreak destruction on the long established written rules of the English language. Well I’m not buying it.

In the short term I think there will likely be more errors in grammar and punctuation among school kids, as well as an increasing use of txt talk in conversations, but having faced down linguistic threats of all kinds; having adapted to new influences; and having survived many centuries largely intact, I think the English language is more than ready to hold its own in the long term. And as someone who finds secret pleasure in browsing through a book on punctuation or grammar I’m all for that.

I can’t see the English sentence structure changing too much just because it’s easier to send a text message enquiring “WYD?” to find out what your friend is doing. In any case, it’s easier on the fingers and thumbs.

The rules of language, built up over the centuries, are not going to crumble because of texting. OMG! I certainly hope not. Time will tell, but AFAIC txt msging is gr8!

EOM :)


Anonymous said...

Great post Chris!

Sara said...

While I don't think text will end up being so bad in the long run, I think in the short run it will toss a few bumps in the road for the generation that will grow up not remembering a time before text messaging. I think it will be more of a hindrance for them as they have to type papers and write essays in school, when applying to college and writing paper after paper after thesis to get through college. I wonder if it will become so inherent to their language base that they will not even realize that they type something such as, "While the txt argues..." and not even realized it until they are marked down for it. I feel for them, for my cousins who are teenagers about to enter university where they will have to take tomes of handwritten notes in some of their courses. Perhaps I am wrong and it will be fine. However when I hear my mother, a teacher, tell me that she has kindergarten students who don't know how to write with a pencil and paper because all they have ever needed was a mouse and a keyboard, I am indeed concerned for the younger generations.

allinaword said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
allinaword said...

Thanks for the comments – they have given me food for thought.

I wonder whether the effect of reading a standard form of English--as used in most mainstream magazines and journals--will influence whether the younger generations you refer to still think of text language as “real” English. Perhaps that’s where a recognizable distinction can be made.

Also, your point about kindergarten students not learning how to write with a pencil and paper is something I hadn’t considered--it is also something I hope will change. But our technological age often moves at the speed of lightening, and changes that many thought might take years suddenly occur in a fraction of that time.