Monday, June 1, 2009

The end of language, as we know it...

It's outrageous!
With all these young people SMS-ing and texting all over the place today, correct grammar is going out the window (Professor Cods-wallop)

Often, lecturers complain that emails from students contain SMS-speak and students are losing the ability to write cogent, formal sentences.

Is it the case that the use of SMS language will lead to the demise of correct English and grammar in writing - or is this pure speculation (ie a load of rubbish on the part of the stuffy establishment!)

Wot r yr views re txting? LOL!! BRB.


Learning said...

ROFL! ur ritin wot?

Sorry, I just can't do it! I was going to write my whole commnet in text language but I have an intrinsic and highly motivating commitment to effective communication.

Yes, I have seen many student emails in text language. Yes, I have found most of them difficult to comprehend. Unfortunately it seems to be the students with poor communication skills who do it the most! So not only do they not phrase their enquiries in a direct and informative manner but they also write them in text language. It is very frustrating and usually wastes a lot of time. I have to ask for details, they have to provide details, I have to ask for more clarification, they have to clarify further... it seems as if the whole process would be a lot more efficient if students used correct language and good communication in the first instance.

However, an email sent to a professor is not an essay. It does not have to demonstrate a scholar's command of language. I have noticed that often the same students who send incomprehensible and inconvenient emails in text language write highly articulate and well-considered papers.

So I think that the use of text language does not indicate the demise of formal language. It is merely yet another form of written language and quite interesting for being motivated by the constraints of technological advances.


Anonymous said...

I can't stand text writing. I still punctuate my sentences even on my mobile. I just find it aggravating. Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

Rthr tnk it lrng 2nd language

Anonymous said...

My 15 year-old-daughter just pointed out to me that 'texting' and 'SMS-ing' mean the same thing. A tautology, Codswallop! Preposterous!

Oj said...

I am 16. I use texting language. But I can still write a 6 page paper in standard language. But I think this problem is real, just it's for a younger generation. See, I had my fundamentals down before texting and the like got big. But little kids are using texting and such before they are well grounded in grammar. So, this maybe an issue for the younger group.

Kelly Parker said...

Validating "textspeak" in the context of SMS only,while discouraging textspeak in academic writing is one approach I use to teach appropriate use of English in different registers.

To limit our criticism to the youth culture of developed nations is pompous. Many people in developing nations use text messages to maintain relationships, as phone calls are prohibitively expensive.
In SMS, economy necessitates brevity and shortcuts, so to push for full spellings in texting is a form of economic oppression.

Universally,young people will often invent slang as long as there are elders to act mysterious around. This is the way it always has been,even when some of us old bloggers were youngsters.

Language is dynamic and organic. SMS has simply become a new register of communication, which we should embrace as and addition to the possibilities of discourse.

As long as students recognize the need to adapt language for different registers, use of textspeak should not be an issue. So simply allow textspeak in SMS, but discourage it in academic discourse. It's that easy.

Eileen said...

I recently read that SMS texting is increasing literacy rates around the globe. Though it might bastardize the English language, and it sure is annoying to have students text during class, I see SMS as just the next phase of our complicated language. I also believe that with the newer QWERTY keyboard phones out there, there will be no need for a shorthand language to text. This may just die out with the next set of new "cool" young cell phone users. SMS is so 2009!

Anonymous said...

Is anybody else sick of hearings under 21 saying LIKE every other word "like". If your a Geordie then thats fine but it seems that our language has become watered down with Americanisms and slang from popular culture.
What we fail to recognize that is the UK has always had Dingles who are not as well spoken or as well educated than privileged folk.

mensajes claro said...

I still punctuate my sentences even on my mobile. I just find it aggravating. Oh dear.

mensajes claro said...

I can't stand text writing. I still punctuate my sentences even on my mobile. I just find it aggravating. Oh dear.

Bobby Blackthorne said...

Am I the only one simultaneously amused and depressed about the irony in posts defending the English language by people who can't spell, who can't use the proper forms of verbs, who can't punctuate, who use the incorrect homonym for certain words (e.g. your instead of you're; then instead of than), who use run-on sentences, or who just generally mangle it? It's amusing, on the one hand, for the obvious reason that these posters genuinely believe they're writing correctly. It's depressing, on the other hand, because it's painfully evident that the situation will never get any better.

("Commnet" in the first paragraph of the first reply post was a beautiful way to kick things off.)

Proofreading is everybody's friend.

Andrea Duff said...

Hello Bobby

I am not writing this to defend our tardiness. You are right - we are more about 'do what we say' rather than 'what we do'. Small errors in the blog may deservedly open us up to criticism.

However, if we provoke discussion (even when bad publicity is better than no publicity), then at least this little blog has gone some way toward getting people thinking about grammar and language.

This does provoke another question about the use of grammar in discussion forums.

In an essay, we would expect grammar to be flawless, right?

Is it reasonable (such as in the case of 'Learning's' post with the spelling error) to expect what is basically stream-of-consciousness 'discussion' to be flawless as well? Or is it reasonable to expect colloquial use of language (and sentences which begin with 'or') to creep in and add a touch of conversational - human - colour?

This is not defensiveness, but a philosophical question about medium and message.

All the best and please keep posting. :-)

Bobby Blackthorne said...

Hi Andrea! Thanks for the reply.

Though I did cite one example of an error, I did not intend to single out the posters on this blog specifically. Having visited many similar sites on the Internet, I can safely conclude that the problem is universal. This just seemed like the most civilized place I could find at that moment to express my particular frustration. I hope that comes across as a compliment. :)

And you do raise some interesting points. I wholeheartedly agree that it is better that we are at least engaged in discussion rather than being complacent about these issues. I also don't mind colloquial language being used in these informal situations like commenting in blogs since I do it myself. If they were all written in essay form, that might be a little dry, although I don't think there's a comment section on the web even close to running that risk. It is great when you get a taste of the writer's personality through his/her casual style.

It always astounds me, however, that people are so quick to take the time to share their valuable opinions and yet don't take the minimal extra time to make sure they at least spelled the words correctly or punctuated for that added clarity of thought. Again, the depressing part is that we may never see the situation improve because most people don't recognize its importance, or simply don't know how. Accepting this requires a great deal of forced resignation and, as you can see, I'm still resisting. I could rant about this forever...

To end on a lighter note, it's nice to interact with fellow linguists!

Andrea Duff said...

:) Thank you, Bobby. Your comment was not at all offensive as this is, after all, a blogocracy!

Sorry it has taken a while to respond but for some reason your comment came through as spam and I just discovered it.

Kind regards from Downunder.