This is something that I hold very close to my heart. We all know that language evolves over time and words warp into variations of themselves through usage. Often a word that is hard to pronounce will, over many years, become accepted in an easier form. There is speculation, for example, that the word ask will become aks in time. Of course, if that does happen, I’m going to have to kill someone, but that still won’t hold back the progression of linguistic development. Or linguistic entropy in the case of the above example. As if ask is hard to pronounce.
However, the prevalence of computer chat rooms, forums and mobile phone text messaging is doing more to destroy our language than centuries of ignorance have managed. Personally, I’m against it. I’m the sort of person that will take the time to write out a text message with correct grammar and punctuation. There are two reasons for this. One, it’s the polite and correct thing to do and two, it’s not hard. Not even vaguely. People are so lazy these days. Before long we’ll all evolve into amorphous globs of quivering, jellified, pasty white flesh, jacked directly into our computers gibbering “lol” and “omg!” at each other. And then you’ll all be sorry.
I’m not alone. Julie Dawson over at Bards & Sages (there’s a link in the sidebar) recently posted an article on this subject and I’m reproducing it here. Stand up and be counted, people. And if, for example, you find yourself rolling on the floor laughing your arse off, write it out in full or simply type ha ha! How hard can it be?
In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the government is able to control the minds of the citizenry by systematically reducing the number of words available in the English language. By reducing the ability to use the depth of the English language, Orwell warned, the government would be able to reduce the ability of its citizens to think and reason for themselves. Thus making them easily controlled.
Today, we see this dissolution of our language coming, not from the government, but from the growing use and acceptance of chatspeak in common communications. Once designed solely as a means of quickly conveying ideas in a live chat or instant message environment, the annoying abbreviations have seeped into forums, e-mails, and even more formal correspondence.
I have personally had the displeasure of reading electronic query letters from job applicants that are filled with chatspeak. I have actually heard people use the chatspeak word “lol” in actual, face-to-face conversation. As a publisher, I have received countless queries from writers who construct a query letter in the same incoherent chat babble as they would a forum post.
We must stop this downward spiral into incoherent stupidity!
We, the undersigned, having grown tired of being inundated with countless, incoherent posts that look like a Scrabble™ board threw up, hereby declare that we will no longer tolerate this dissolution of the language. The ability to construct a complete sentence is necessary to both understand information you receive and to convey ideas you wish to share. By allowing chatspeak to seep into common communication, we limit our ability to share complex information with each other. Do we really want to be reduced to a society of people whose only means of expressing pleasure or agreement is to type “lol”? Do we really want to be reduced to a society of people who allow illiterate 12 year olds to dictate how we communicate online?
From this point forth, we will strive to combat this epidemic of regressive thinking before it’s too late. We shall no longer accept the lazy-minded notion that chatspeak is quicker and easier, but instead seek to show the users of chatspeak how stupid they really are. We shall correct your grammar in forum posts, return your e-mails unread, and reject your manuscripts with a form letter that says all submissions must be in English, not chatspeak.
Join the rebellion and fight for your right to think in complete sentences with real words before it is too late!
Good work, Julie. I’m in. Drop a comment if you want to “sign the petition” or pass it on.