Thursday, February 19, 2009

The decline of the English language makes the baby Jesus cry*

I'm just as lazy as the next person. Really, I know you will probably find that information shocking, but sometimes, Scarlett, I just don't give a damn. However, when it comes to proper grammar and spelling, I'm sure you're well aware of my anal retentive tendencies. Perhaps this is why, of late, I have found "txt tlk" to be such a disturbing phenomenon. And I am not alone.

My faithful public let me know that there is an entire anti- "txt tlk" movement. I will shamefully admit that I have been known to use the occasional "what r u up 2" while texting or IM'ing (I will use the excuse that I don't have a qwerty keyboard on my cell phone, but I can't come up with anything good to excuse the lack of full keyboard utilization). Txt tlk has become a kind of shorthand for the most priviledged and most apathetic generation yet. And, as a consequence, also all the other generations that copy them to feel young and trendy and grammar-inhibition free. I seriously have an editor who ends each e-mail to me with "Thanx."

What confuses me the most is the addition of letters in txt tlk that make the words longer than they normally would be. "Hott" and "kewelz" are two examples that spring to mind. I sometimes use these when I am being silly, but most of the writers are completely serious. Isn't the point of txt tlk to make things faster to type? Inevitably, txt tlk does not make deciphering the hieroglyphics faster to read, but I suppose that is an unfortunate side effect of this impatient need for immediacy.

The pervasive illiteracy is somewhat disheartening, if only because it is sure to get worse and much more pervasive (see: Twitter). Texting and IM'ing aside, however, I always thought of e-mail as a stand-in for handwritten letters. Would you write out "how r u doin" in fine cursive on expensive parchment and then spend 42 cents on a stamp for that letter? There is possibly no greater simple pleasure for me than to receive a lovely handwritten note in the mail from a close friend or relative. The time and effort mean so much more than dashing off a five-minute e-mail, rife with misspellings, intentional or otherwise.

Unfortunately, I can't promise I will never again text or IM you in some form of txt tlk (I accept your mocking when it inevitably happens), but please join with me as I raise the battle cry to keep e-mail and all other forms of communication free of the confusing, lazy junk. Because, really, do you want to make the baby Jesus cry? What? You do? You sick bastard.

*Many thanks to Ravinok for acting as muse for this piece. Also, he came up with the title. I can't claim that kind of genius as my own.

8 comments:

Ravinok said...

I love it! Welcome to the "Save the Vowels movement"!

KittyMarie said...

HAHA! Awesome! I will become a faithful member!

Kyle said...

I went to the wrong site :( I signed up for the "Save the Bowels movement."

KittyMarie said...

You crack me up to no end!

Angie said...

what's really sick about all this is that kids turn in schoolwork laced with these horrendous abbreviations. i have a stack of sonnets written by my COLLEGE PREP sophomores; most of them are indecipherable, incomprehensible rubbish, and not because of content, structure, or any other such quality. they suck solely because these "gifted" children don't know any other way to write.

KittyMarie said...

That really is an outrage. I wish I could say that their problems would surely come to a head and they would pay the price in college, but I was acquainted with more than one college student who seemed to have an elementary-level comprehension of the language. Sad.

Blind, Irish Pirate said...

I will happily produce a commercial for your movement.

(by the way, the stupid word verification from blogger is getting harder and harder to decipher. not the same problem, but definitely shares the same issues)

Diosthocles said...

j00 no wat? I liek useing propar grammer 2. winevar i katch any1 useing bad grammer, i liek 2 correct dem.