If you text a lot, if the phone portion of your handheld computer is gathering dust, you probably know somebody like me.
When I send a text, you can count on a few things. Words will be completely spelled out, punctuation will be used and it will be thoroughly read over before I hit send. Apparently, I am an island, way alone in this.
I came across a story, as I usually do, about kids having horrible writing and grammar skills and the one common factor is texting and other various types of communicating you do on your phone.
The story cited a study at Oxford University, where such texts as “OMG, ikr” and “Yo dude r u still coming to party Friday” were used as examples of how young people “write” nowadays.
Now, you can probably figure out the gist of the second example, and you probably know, or have a suspicion of what OMG stands for, but “ikr?” If the story hadn’t revealed it stands for “I know, right?” I would have had to ponder it for a while before it came to me.
It isn’t just kids who write like this. People in their 20s write like this, a large chunk in their 30s do and there are probably people in their 40s and 50s who write like this.
The difference is that, at least for those over 30, they should know better. You could argue that it’s people in their 20s who started this nonsense, but if you have kids old enough to be doing this, you shouldn’t be writing like them.
People will make the argument that it just saves time. Why type out “I don’t know the answer to that question,” when you can just hit three keys, “IDK,” and be done with it?
There is some validity to that argument, but not much. Being able to know what other people are talking about is what separates us from animals. You think dogs or cats understand each others’ barks or meows? Of course not. But when somebody says, “That’s a good question, but unfortunately I don’t know the answer,” you know what they mean much better than “IDK.”
You might be thinking, “Shut up, you cranky old man. You just don’t get us cool, young people.”
That may be, but mangling the English language is nothing new. Years ago, when only weirdos had cellphones connected to their cars by curly looking cords, young people were already so lazy they shortened words to keep from having to say so much.
I was a young person myself when I heard the word Mustang shortened to “‘Stang.” As in, “Did you see that sharp-looking ’Stang driving down the street?”
I pointed out the stupidity of that statement, and I got the same reaction I’m probably getting now if there are actually any young people reading this. On the plus side, someone else came into the conversation and agreed the person was stupid for saying it that way.
The study at Oxford expressed concern about the ability of people whose writing skills didn’t go far beyond that of texting to function in the world, and that is a legitimate concern. But the world will adjust to their way of doing things if they insist on it. I’m sure we’re not very far from a novel being written completely in text language and becoming a best-seller.
My concern is that people don’t seem too concerned with being seen as astoundingly stupid. I’m fond of saying I didn’t know how stupid people were when it comes to the written language until I got on Facebook, but private texts between the sender, me and the NSA let me know it’s not really Facebook’s fault.
I’ll admit I’m a little sensitive when it comes to the written language. I’ve loved books since I hit the world and the written word, through newspaper work, has pretty much given me everything I’ve ever had. It really rubs my rhubarb the wrong way to see it treated in such a manner.
I know, somewhere out there is somebody, probably a retired teacher, who could point out some arcane grammar mistake I’ve made in this ranting, but I’m not talking about those things. We all get the proper usage of “went” and “gone” mixed up sometimes.
What we really need to be worried about is when somebody uses “no” when even the most school-hating 12-year- old would understand “know” is what they needed to use.
But, you might feel differently. IDK. YMMV.