Is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary? It is a question often posed by experts and by the media, and an idea I am exploring.
I’m sitting at my desk, looking through old emails and letting out tuts of disbelief at the messages I once received and thought nothing of. I’m not exactly the person who insists on every i to be dotted, every T crossed, but when it comes to writing official reports grammar is essential. So when I see emails that say things such as “wen r u next coming ova?” It makes me flinch; it really does.
Its text speech, and frankly I think that it has no business mixing with official writing. There is no way a teacher should have to look through work with abbreviations that wouldn’t pass Microsoft Word’s spell check. The word ‘ain’t’ (another flinch) is actually so often used I wouldn’t be surprised if it was to slip into the dictionary along with many other words that are far more distinguished and better suited, such as ‘atrocious’, ‘extradited’ and my personal favorite, ‘flippant’. Is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary? Is this a sign that should be noted?
But is there a generation that we can really pinpoint the blame on? Is it teenagers, with their smart phones and social networking sites? Is it the adults, the one who created these devices in the first place? Or is it something more sinister, a way more casual way of writing that threatens to seep into our society and make William Shakespeare turn in his grave in disgust? Imagining plays and novels to be written with this language makes me frightened to be one of the generation using the language.
It’s not as if it was created to be a nuisance and have a negative impact on writing. It is so convenient to be able to type a few letters into a screen that can actually pass for words (who knew it would save so much time?) or just scrunch a few words together into one word? LOL stands for laugh out loud apparently, not lots of love. Wubu2 is a way of asking someone what they have been up to! See how much time I could have saved by not writing that sentence?!
Is it making us lazy, is another theory I determine in my mind over and over again. Has it gotten to the point where we can’t spare the time to write a proper sentence and have to rely on abbreviations that actually don’t make any sense to express ourselves with the written word? Text speech is apparently supposed to be partially the reason that students have been failing their English exams and other essay based lessons. People actually seem to think that by entering this text language into Word, it is going to magically transform in the words they are trying to say. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.
Of course there have been arguments that the failing of English students cannot be blamed wholly on text speech. You could argue that text speech is just there for convenience; what you take from it and use it for is your decision from that time on. Perhaps it is our fault that we can’t seem to separate the two languages and try to combine them together. Maybe we can’t blame bad spelling on reliance on text speech. Personally, I have a phone which (shocker!) I do use text speech on. I do have Face Book and I have been known in the past to shorten a few words in a casual conversation. But I would never think of submitting an essay with this language all over it! I would never in consider in an exam, even if I only had thirty seconds to finish a complex sentence, using unofficial abbreviations. There’s just something wrong about it. And I am sure I am not alone in thinking this; there must be others who don’t allow text speech to take over their daily lives. Is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary? This evidence would suggest that for some people, it isn’t.
If I was to ever say LOL in front of my grandma, as understanding as she is on other modern ways of living, she wouldn’t stand for it. She would make me separate each letter into a word, repeat my sentence and say it properly. Now of course this would have been in a casual verbal conversation, and usually you could be less formal in these situations and let the odd slang word slip out. But my grandma never had that when she was my age, and she still doesn’t see why it should happen now. And in her eyes, I suppose that it is true, I understand that, and I try not to use this slang language in front of her. Does everyone else try and make the distinction between when to use this language and when not to, though? Are there people who word turn up to a job interview, casual as you please and reel of a bunch of words that the interviewer would only hear in the lyrics of a rap song? Sure there are. Is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary? For my nan and certainly others from her generation, it certainly cannot. There is bad language being used in formal situation these days. But can text speech actually be solely blamed for it? No.
It aggravates me as much as the next person, but there is no point in denying its existence. It’s here to stay; all we can do is alter when and how we are using it and hoping to high heavens that younger generations can see slang for what it really is- SLANG, CASUAL, not something to be used in formal situations. I have no plan on swapping my beloved copy of the Oxford Dictionary for the Urban Dictionary. I don’t see why I should have to. I don’t see why anyone should feel the need to shorten their words and not appreciate the value of words in their original form. Of course, if people appreciate text language and love using it, then fair to them. However, I certainly will not be joining their ranks. For me, is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary? Definitely not.
I look at my emails and give the one last tut. They were from years ago, and they’ve only been getting worse. Is there really anything I can do about it? By giving the words the evil eye, I’m not going to break through to the screen and rearrange the letters. What am I going to do, resend every single one so that they are grammatically correct? The answer to both questions is no. I shut down my computer and leave it, although in the back of my mind I am asking myself one last question.
Is there a way to prevent what seems to be coming… is text speech taking precedence over the Dictionary?