Friday, April 22, 2011

Y r u writing like this? i h8 it. do u no u look stupid?

While I may not always do the English language justice, I think it knows that I try my very best.  When I learn of a mistake, after overcoming the initial effrontery followed by grief, time is taken researching, clarifying and then adapting this new information into daily use.

While understanding language is ever evolving, I am frustrated when, in matters of spelling, the lazy decide it's up to them to actively partake in this process. It's one thing to just be poor at spelling. I'm poor at maths so I well understand we can't all be good at basic tasks. But when people excuse it by saying "language is evolving" as if they actually care and are thoughtfully and consciously assisting in the future of our language, it's utterly obnoxious.  As is commonly seen these days, evolution seems not so much "survival of the fittest" as we once thought as the most likely to survive appears to be the most loud and brutal. Those who will trample the well devised thoughts of the soft spoken. With strength in numbers, they are working to make their shortcomings acceptable. In doing so, the misspellings will eventually become the accepted norm.

The obnoxious of this kind have little hope for redemption, but when the educated see fit to abbreviate "are" to "r", "you" to "u" and so forth, are they at all concerned that even though I know they are capable of completing these words that they read like some sort of wannabe gangsta* moron? I understand that this kind of text speak was born in harder times. Sending a text message ten years ago was like driving the earliest incarnation of the car. You had to get out, crank it to get it started and no matter what you did, you could only go so fast. The early texts being composed on numbered keys with three letters to a key, typing as little as possible was much desired. But with the Nokia phone came predictive text. You could type each key once and it could usually figure out the word you wanted and if it didn't, it could be taught. As a result, I never had to resort to these hideous abbreviations. The good people at Nokia were on the side of literacy. The same cannot be said for the folks at Motorola who equipped their predictive text with abbreviations like "l8r" which would burn my eyes as it was suggested while I tried to type a legitimate word.

With the advent of the smart phone where full keyboards are ubiquitous, the excuses for this kind of abbreviation are running out. In compositions clearly devised on a full keyboard (especially on actual computers), there is simply no justification for this kind of insidious offence at all. There is the issue of trying to contain one's thoughts within a 140-160 character limit imposed by Twitter and text messages, but even when faced with this dilemma, I always opt to rework my text to avoid appearing illiterate. I experienced a traumatic incident when I found someone had retweeted one of my posts which occupied all of the allotted characters. This usually flattering event was tarnished as in his effort to add a remark, he edited down my two uses of "you" and one of "are" to "u" and "r" leaving me looking like a dope to those who didn't know better.

The big question, possibly unasked by the offenders, is how do those abbreviations read? When words contain an accented letter to create a certain sound, such as fiancé, protégé and café, with the accent comes a splash of class to our otherwise un-accented language. Use of "u" in place of "you" carries a personality all its own and one I believe most communicators did not intend to convey. Where an umlaut or tilde brings class, "u" for "you" says entirely the opposite. "U" conjures a bleary eyed, dopey delivery with barely parted lips. Depending on the frequency of other abominable abbreviations surrounding it, this image may or may not be accompanied by drool pouring down the chin of the author.

The expression that accompanies use of "u r"

Having said all that, the abbreviations do have a purpose for us all: to impersonate or depict idiots in writing. Where a collection of adjectives may be needed to describe the intonation of any other character, to quote someone saying "how r u? Wat u doin? Wanna go 2 mcd l8r? im at walmart atm" paints a perfect picture. What did you see when you read that? I saw this:

To be clear, if you are an offender of this type of thing, I am not calling you stupid.  I have seen it from people whom I know to be fully equipped mentally and able to write perfectly well, including someone who has written a book. I'm simply taking this opportunity to point out that not only are you contributing to the demise of the English language, but no matter what I know about you, writing like that contaminates the whole sentence as though you were impersonating some sort of dopey "dude" while you spoke. If that's what you want, carry on.

*It may seem hypocritical to use the word "gangsta" in a piece about saving English, but alas, it has become its own word with an individual meaning and will no doubt eventually be admitted into the OED as "LOL" was this past week. "Gangster" implies more of a mobster style personage which was not what I was trying to evoke at all.
blog comments powered by Disqus