Tuesday, August 17, 2010

For ABC WEDNESDAY

"E" is for "English"
The English language, to be precise.

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 – 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 computer and logged on to the web, I can see, along with everyone else, that an entirely new language is being created.

Thanks to younger folks, and not us old codgers, 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. In addition, it relies heavily on acronyms.
BRB, OMG, TTYL, LOL, BTW, CU, as examples.
And yet, the folks who write using this stripped-down texting patois seem to be able to communicate more or less effectively with their chat friends.

But surely punctuation, to take just one example, is important. You know the famous panda story, the one about the murderous gun-toting panda? Seems a wildlife book had described this creature as a “large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.” Just a misplaced comma, but it turned the peaceful panda into a wild gunslinger.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Lynne Truss wrote a book about him, a book subtitled “the zero-tolerance approach to punctuation,” and it was a huge best-seller. I thought it might make punctuation popular. But maybe not.
During my pedagogical years I was at times dismayed to find that such usages as “IIRC” and “IMO” were occasionally used by students writing their papers. 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 internet argot become Standard English one of these days? What’s your opinion?

31 comments:

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

Yes but language evolves and even before computers there were grocer's apostrophes and acronyms like SWALK about so bad grammar isn't a new phenomenon

RuneE said...

You have divulged my secret way of doing ABC! :-)

LisaF said...

Oh, don't even get me started on this subject! I teach the capstone class for senior-level advertising students at a local J-school. I'm floored each year at their writing skills (or lack thereof). Their "job" is to develop a strategic plan for a real-life client and present their plan and ideas at the end of the semester. I grade three strat plan drafts throughout the semester. Every group fails the first draft and get a C on the second one before I get their full attention that grammar and spelling are important. Their lax email communication with me is abysmal. Maybe I'll start grading the emails too! That said, the end result is always amazingly great.

Leo said...

I do believe you and Roger went on similar roads this time :D a very humorous take


My ABC W E

Roger Owen Green said...

I've almost given up on its/it's - I see it wrong SO often, even in newspapers! Not incidentally, I did ENGLISH, too!

On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you for participating!

Manang Kim said...

I just came from Roger blog and his post is also about English. I may not be good in English writing or speaking the language but at least I tried my best or else my English teachers will get mad at me hahaha. The children are prone to learn little now a days. I chat my niece almost everyday in the internet and I told her not to write those words that I don't understand. And I also reprimand her of not using these kind of words because it makes her dull, so I hope! I so love English and I still wanted to learn more. If I have a problem with words I asked my hubby, and I told him one time I have problem with preposition, and he said I don't know what is that? Well we ended up laughing. Great post!
ABC Wednesday~E

Leslie: said...

OMG!!! (just kidding - lol) LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. As a semi-retired teacher, I can recall the days of parsing sentences. Kids today have no idea what a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb is, let along conjuctions, prepositions, or clauses. I tutor high-school students and one of the major difficulties they have when writing essays is their poor grammar skills. Another problem is punctuation, especially when to use the comma. When I was teaching, the younger teachers used to come to me for lessons before they had to teach their own class! Imagine that!

Mrs. M @ TLC said...

I'm not a native English speaker but I am an English teacher. You can tell how fascinated I am with English language. It's already rich and yet continues to evolve. I don't think I can ever stop learning it! LOL.

Blessings!

Hildred and Charles said...

In answer to your last question, - OMG I hope not!

Jingle said...

love the pandas,
very English e post...
:)

Pat said...

There aren't many of us left. If you haven't already come across him you may like to visit:
http://jackbushnothankyou.blogspot.com/.
He also has and excellent photo blog.

Mara said...

I say yes to punctuation and grammar! Any mistakes I make I blame on not having learnt English as my native language. And I will stick to that...

Eldritch the Dragon said...

It's the difference between
What is this thing, called love?
and
What is this thing called, love?

Berowne said...

Leslie: "OMG!!! (just kidding - lol) LOVE LOVE LOVE this post."
Great comment; thanks.

Gramma Ann said...

Idk TTYL TTFN

photowannabe said...

I wish I had learned proper use of punctuation way back in the Dark Ages(high school)
I really fault my teachers for not beating it into my head.
Great post and you give lots of food for thought.

Cheryl said...

You really don't want to get me started on any of this. Honest. There isn't enough time or space for me to tell you what I believe and what makes me crazy. Maybe you could start a whole new site to discuss this issue.

Vernz said...

This is the second English language post i visited... glad the world understand me ... english is Philippines second language.
My ABC Wednesday here

Rinkly Rimes said...

I am an advocate of simplified spelling and I'm sure pexting is going to lead us in that direction. Thank goodness. The communication is all tha counts.

Berowne said...

photowannabe: "Great post and you give lots of food for thought."
Appreciate your fine comment, photo.

Berowne said...

Gramma Ann: "Idk TTYL TTFN"
TNX.

Susan Rose said...

Eats, shoots and leaves! What a visual image. We should all aspire to not mess up badly enough to become notorious.

Berowne said...

Susan Rose: "We should all aspire to not mess up badly enough to become notorious."
I gave up on that hope years ago. :-)

Jay said...

I always say that language is a living thing and it does evolve, but I have to say in my heart I'm with you on the grammar and punctuation. It really annoys me when someone just casually ignores all the rules, despite knowing them full well.

And yet.

After spending years communicating over the internet, I find myself making the same stupid grammar and spelling mistakes as those people who used to annoy me so. I don't know whether it's simply a case of seeing something written a certain way so often that your brain accepts it as correct, or if I'm just getting old and careless.

Anyway, I'm more forgiving than I used to be, but I still make every effort to get it right myself - it's the way I was taught!

Berowne said...

Jay: "I still make every effort to get it right myself - it's the way I was taught!"
I see you use "it's" correctly, always a good sign. :-)

jinksy said...

God forbid that English grammar and punctuation should disappear. I do,however, hold my hand up to being a crap typist whose fingers have a habit of writing faux pas under their own steam...

Paul C said...

I too revel in the correctness of punctuation and can get quite excited about the subtleties of the semicolon; it's pregnant with possibilities.

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: There is always the one grammar scholar who can clean up after the computer age. English should receive an "E" for illogical semantics.
There are far too many "exceptions to the rule" in English. The subject of Spelling as well as Grammar, in English is fraut with awkward logic, malapropisms and mispeak, to name but a few of the incorrect uses of a clearly defined language. For example, "'i' after 'e', except after 'c'". Why are there exceptions? The multiple "exception" in the English language remind me of a language which may be, if not dead, at least dying. Perhaps English is not dying, rather "thunked out", taking a sabbitical while the Modern Age catches up with the hodge-podge lodge of a language. Not that I am picking on English per se, no, not at all! Most Languages have this habit of subtle and annoying inanities. Let's face the facts; English may be linguistically deficienct; almost, if not completely, obsolete. Noted in the fine examples within the Savage Reflection's comment section, I have found example of extreme grammatical errors. Please, never use the word "bad" when describing an inanimate object since such inanimates objects do not have human morals and therefore it would be far better to say "wrong", or "incorrect". Also, I have never once heard any of my English Professors who ever "did" English. "Oy".

chiccoreal said...

You caught me! I meant to type "fraut" as "fraught" but I was thinking of Mr. Frauts my Drama teacher and plum forgot!

chiccoreal said...

They should call me "Misspoke". Mispeak isnt a word.

chiccoreal said...

Berowne: May I please redo my comment which was fraught with common errors and omissions? Thank-you Berowne!
Since I had a copy of my comment from my d/l; here is the corrected version below;

Dear Berowne: There is, always, at least, one grammar scholar who can clean up after the wake left by the computer age. English should receive an "E" for illogical semantics, in my opinion.
There are far too many "exceptions to the rule" in English. The subject of Spelling as well as Grammar, is unfortunately fraught with awkward logic, malapropisms and mispeak, to name but a few of the many incorrect uses of what should be, a clearly defined language.
For example, why is "'i' after 'e', except after 'c'"? Why are there so many of these kinds of exceptions?
The multiple "exception" in the English language reminds me of a language which may be, if not dead, at least dying.
Perhaps English is not dying, rather "thunked out", taking a sabbitical while the Modern Age catches up with the hodge-podge lodge of a language.
Not that I am picking on English per se, no, not at all! Most Languages have this habit of subtle and annoying inanities.
Let's face the facts; English may be linguistically deficienct; almost, if not completely, obsolete. Noted in the fine examples within the Savage Reflection's comment section, I have found examples of extreme grammatic errors.
Please never use the word "bad" to describe an inanimate object, since such inanimates objects do not have human morals or are not morally "bad". It would be far better to say "wrong", or "incorrect" in this instance. Also, I have never heard any of my English Professors who ever "did" English. "Oy" I think I need glasses!

 
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