Saturday, August 29, 2009


I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting on in years, but I miss the old grammar rules.

I always thought it was easy to determine the intelligence and education, not to mention the acumen and taste, of various people simply by reading what they wrote and how they wrote it.

If they showed they didn’t know basic English grammar -- when to use “it’s” and when to use “its,” for example (see above title) – I thought I had them pretty well figured out as people, even though I had never met them.

But all this has changed. Seated at my ‘pewter and logged on to the web, I can see that an entirely new language is being created. It’s a strange dialect, presumably based on English, which has taken over, and it pays no obeisance to, or even recognizes, rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling, not to mention capitalization or other outworn concepts. In addition, it relies heavily on acronyms and emoticons.

And yet, the internet folks often seem quite intelligent and manage to communicate very effectively using this new vernacular with their chat friends.

During my pedagogical years I was at times dismayed to find that such usages as “IIRC” and “IMO,” among others, were occasionally used by students writing their term papers. (No one used an emoticon, however, I’m pleased to add.) So are acronyms and emoticons, accompanied by a total lack of rules of English grammar, simply a short-term, ephemeral phenomenon, specific to internet communication, or does all this represent the real future of our written English language?

By the way, scientific research has established that “ACRONYM” stands for “A Crazy Reminder of Names You Misplaced.”

Question is, is this where our language is headed? Will this rough-hewn, stripped-down internet argot become Standard English one of these days? What’s your opinion?


Drowsey Monkey said...

The it's / its thing always bugged me. Altho, as you know, I do like to create my own spelling at times.

I think language will change and probably to a point it will drive me crazy ... fortunately I'll be dead by then. That's the main reason we all die around 80 or so - because by that time things have just changed so much it's too hard for us to handle ;)

Sorry for the emoticon. :P

Berowne said...

>>Altho, as you know, I do like to create my own spelling at times. <<

Yes, it's difficult to come up with hard and fast rules for spelling. We say honor, the UKers say honour. and up in Canada they don't write a check, they write a cheque.

> That's the main reason we all die around 80 or so. <<

You might want to revise that number up a decade or so. 80 is becoming the new 40!

As you may have guessed, I'm very new to this blogging thing. So I was glad to visit your blog; it had the personal style I would like to achieve here.

Tinsie said...

UKers also write a cheque ;-)

Personally, I get very frustrated with people who use the apostrophe incorrectly, as well as those who capitalise random words in the middle of their sentences. I have more tolerance for idiomatic spelling.

Berowne said...

...people who use the apostrophe incorrectly...

Did you read the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves?

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