пятница, 27 июня 2008 г.

Why do our sentences now look like algebraic equations?

Teen Times: "i wrote dis article too say dat i h8 wats happenin 2 are language, u no wat im sayin cuz u no dat im write."

That was possibly the most painful sentence I've ever written, yet, that is how most people nowadays choose to express themselves through writing. Spelling, punctuation, capitalisation, even clarity, are becoming obsolete.

I am scared that this will be the future of the English language. While internet "blogging" sites such as Bebo and MySpace, and online instant messaging services MSN and Skype, are flooded with more and more traffic every day, so continues the damaging effects on our written language. The public's obsession with sending "text messages" has not helped the situation either. If not working as a catalyst to reinforce things, it is a silent reminder of how English should not be.

What started out as simple abbreviations in this virtual world, has snowballed into so much more. Since when is it alright to introduce numbers into a word so that hate becomes "h8", later - "l8r", wait - "w8"? Before long you aren't sure if you are looking at a piece of writing or an algebraic sum. The rules of phonetics govern this system of word manipulation. As long as what you've written sounds somewhat like what you're trying to say, it is correct. No need to get bogged down in "i before e, except after c" or any other "mumbo jumbo" an English teacher once rattled on about in the classroom.

But no one seems to care. No one is worried. Single letters continue to replace whole words, you becomes "u", are/our - "r", be - "b". This is only the beginning. This process of language destruction has formed its own recognised language. It can be cryptic. An arrangement of what at a first glance looks like a collection of random letters, is a sentence. Ttyl - a promise to converse again soon. Lol - to giggle out loud at a joke. Brb - a claim you'll be absent from the conversation for a short while.

It's a dangerous means of communicating. A simple typo could have you agreeing to anything.

The point that worries me is that the increased use of these new "English spellings" will cause people's ability to spell correctly to diminish. How do we learn how to spell? Apart from that dreaded spelling book, we are subconsciously taking in the spelling of words by seeing them written correctly.

Books: remember that word? With the interest in reading being replaced with time spent "chatting online", the only writing people are seeing is this newly created kind, the wrong kind. Where it's okay to stick in an apostrophe, or not. Where it's acceptable to leave out vowels from a word. Where replacing a Y with an I is all good clean fun. Where the more alterations you make to recognised words, the more exciting you must be. Where you are creative, ingenious, not incompetent.

What's even worse is when you have these principles about how our language should be perfect, and you slowly find yourself being sucked in, too. You aren't as fast as you used to be. You don't notice every mistake any more. Until one day a "your" is typed where a "you're" should be, and you don't even realise. And you scream. Now it's happening "two u 2".

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