Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: What’s this foreign lanugage?
Vail, CO, Colorado
Technology is ruining the English language. Butchering it.
I suppose it’s actually the users who are mangling the words. But technology is right there, aiding and abetting, encouraging the offending behavior like a digital devil.
Text messages, instant messages, even e-mails, where there’s an opportunity to write correctly, are filled with syntactical debauchery. We are no longer using full sentences. Our spelling has become atrocious. Punctuation has fallen by the wayside.
Technology encourages us to get the message out there super fast by using short phrases and acronyms and little mashes of letters meant to represent a longer word. (Ur, 2, b4, tho, thru, gr8, ltr, pls) We’re too busy to form complete sentences or write actual words. These things have become obsolete.
Honestly, I find many of these text shortcuts unreadable. My brain just doesn’t work that way. It’s like deciphering a vanity license plate every time one of these texts pops up on my phone.
My frequent-texting friends have learned not to use the shorthand with me. They know if I receive a message with anything other than the most obvious and highly used test-isms (lol, omg, btw, msg), my reply will be, “Huh?” And then they have to send another text spelling it all out. I actually stopped reading a book in which the characters exchanged texts and e-mails written in text-shorthand. I didn’t find it clever; I found it annoying.
Granted, I don’t write in full sentences at times. I can’t tell you how many times when spellchecking a column I get the “Fragment (consider revising)” message. But that’s more of a stylistic issue. I write as I speak. And apparently I speak in fragments. I’m verbally fragmented.
But I just can’t bring myself to use most of the abbreviations and shorthands. I’ve tried, I really have. I’ve included a text-ism or two in a message here and there, but the writer in me has to edit. I can’t sit there and look it, mocking correct syntax and spelling. I actually have a physical reaction. It jars something within me and forces me to change it.
I can’t allow a poorly written phrase to be sent out into cyberspace and read by another human. That would really be a sin against humanity.
I’ve actually gone so far as to correct the grammar in one of my friend’s texts, but only because he’s super smart and I expect more of him. And he should know better.
Conversely, this same friend asked if something was wrong one day when I wrote “cuz” in one of my IMs. It was a clear indication that I wasn’t myself, allowing that to slip through.
This is clearly a generational issue. I never know if my son’s text-isms are just that or misspelled words, because spelling has never been his strong suit. Sometimes it’s like cracking a World War II code trying to decipher his messages.
One day I texted him to let him know I’d be picking him up in 15 minutes, and his response was, “Col.”
Col? What’s he trying to say? Colonel? That doesn’t make sense.
Is it the first three letters of a phrase? Collect other luggage? Can’t order lunch? No, that can’t be it.
Is it a new word I don’t know? Or perhaps he is shortening a longer word?
Ever his mother, I endeavored even in text to correct his spelling. I replied, “Do you mean cool?”
Me: “You were missing an o.”
Him: “Ezr wo.”
Huh? Who’s Ezr Wo? Another person I’m picking up? Is it perhaps Col. Ezr Wo, referenced in the earlier text? I had to ask him when he got in the car.
“It’s easier to type without the extra o,” he replied. Ah, easier without.
“But buddy, then it’s a totally different word. Or rather, a nonexistent word.” All I got in response was a shrug. I wonder how you text that?
I announced right there that all future texts to his mother had to be grammatically correct or I’d take away his phone. It’s my one little way of stopping the decline of civilization.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through email@example.com