03 December 2012

Srsly? R U 2 LA-Z 2 Type?

I hate text speak. If that marks me as an old crab, so be it. Isn't there enough ignorance in the world without encouraging the deliberate proliferation of abbreviated gibberish?

Yes, technology demands now that thoughts be expressed in Tweet bites of 140 characters. And I realize that many more people now send text messages rather than speak live to another person. The Japanese write entire books in these shortened hieroglyphics specifically for their "smart" phones. But as someone who loves language and word combinations, extensive use of text-speak makes a terrible impression of either ignorance or laziness.  Are we truly that pressed for a few seconds of time to not type a few more letters?

Over the past thirty years, I have seen information forms increasingly filled with more and more misspelled words. Not just medical terms, which I can completely sympathize with someone not knowing how to spell, such as cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) or renal lithotripsy (using sound waves to break up kidney stones).  No, I'm talking about "hedach" for headache and "berfday" for birthday.  Emphasis on correct spelling has diminished in our educational system to the point that "speling fonetikly" became perfectly acceptable a number of years ago. When a child begins to learn to read and write, phonetics are, indeed, the first step--but the child should grow beyond that with an expanding vocabulary that they learn to spell correctly.

Now with text messaging great becomes "gr8t", later is "L8R", cutie is "QT"--and no one bothers to abandon the abbreviations when they aren't using their phone.  Posts on Facebook and Twitter encourage limitation of whole word usage. In reading posts, one has to wonder if some folks have any actual knowledge of the real words those combinations of letters and numerals have supplanted.

I will admit to using a "LOL" or a "ROFL" here and there myself. But generally, I think it's of vital importance to use whole words when sending a text message or posting on social media--especially for a writer. Words can be lyrical and beautiful, or nasty and hurtful, but they are every writer's main tools.  As such, they must be handled masterfully, with skill and precision. Deliberate misspellings can be used to convey ignorance--do you honestly want to project that as your own?

Back when I was first learning to send text messages (before phones had keyboards or became "smart"), my son impressed me with a statement I had never expected to hear from a pre-teen:

"Text-speak is trash. Good grammar is sexy."

I was stunned--and extremely proud. To this day, we both try to always compose literate, whole word messages with one another as much as possible (barring arthritic fingers hitting multiple keys or typing in the dark without glasses).  Sometimes it takes me a good amount of time because the T9 Word function never comes up with the word I want so I type each letter individually, but hey, that's what I do anyway as a writer.

So think about what your messages say, and what they say about you to others. 

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