Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The internet and texting are killing the English language.

Or maybe it's our wonderful public non-educational system, or the TV generation.  Whatever the reason, kids today (and plenty of adults too) have no regard for spelling, grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure.

As a semi-professional wordsmith, this gives me great pain.  Not because I'm picky.  Not because I'm a grouchy, blue-haired old schoolmarm.  Well, OK, I am both of those things, but the sensibilities of one old fashioned lady are not the issue here.  The issue is communication.

I mean, here we are in the digital age, the age of Instant Communication.  Ideas and news, pictures and videos, can flash from one side of the planet to the other in mere seconds!  But with all that, we've raised an entire generation and more of people who cannot communicate!  That's a truly bitter irony.

wtf do i mn?  Just go to any crowded Infohub or one of the Social Islands in Second Life and pay attention to the local chat for a few minutes.  The overall impression is one of remarkably foul-mouthed fourth graders, even though everyone there is (supposedly) at least 16 years old.

sup my nigga?  were cn i get cloes 4 my av?  RU a reel person?  Rly!  ty.  yw.  A/S/L.

Arrrgh.  I understand the need for speed and brevity, truly I do.  Especially when you're in a messaging application and using a tiny phone keyboard.  But Second Life is not a texting app.  If you want speed, practice your typing skills.  If you can't spell, take a remedial English course or two.  Or at least use the built in spell-checker!

Yes, English is a twisty and difficult language, even for native speakers.  To, too, two.  Their and they're.  Were, we're, and where.  I before E except after C.  But these things must be learned, not ignored.  They matter.  The correct, precise use of language can convey thoughts, ideas, and even emotions with remarkable accuracy.  Those who can use language precisely are perceived as being more intelligent than those who can't, or who don't bother.

And it works both ways.  If you can communicate well, you also know enough to be critical of what you hear.  You can more easily tell when you are being lied to or bamboozled.  Our politicians are masters of appearing to say one thing while saying nothing at all, or actually saying the opposite.  It's gotten to the point where I assume that the intent of any particular new law or regulation is exactly the opposite of whatever its title says.

How can you combat this creeping degradation of the ability to communicate and to understand?  Two words:  Read.  Books.  Take some time away from the web, videogames, email, texting, social media, TV and movies.  Open a book and read it.  Start at the beginning and go on to the end.  Then do it again with another book, and again and again.  They don't have to be great literature.

And if you have kids, read to them every day.  Teach them to be bookaholics.  A kid who loves books and reading will do just fine, even in today's ever-increasing flood of drivel.

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