Joined: 06 November 2004
Hi friends, i was reading this article and it really got me thinking. Is the English language dying? Is SMS language taking over? Have a look at it and share your views
WHILE READING a classic novel, do you put it down a million times to reach for the dictionary? Well, maybe the next generation will feel the same way about 19th Century literature. And we might well be the Tennysons and Dumases of tomorrow.
SMS seems to be the all-encompassing solution when you want to let your friend know you'll be an hour late, have to remind your son to buy the atta on his way home, or want to convey a little love message during class without the risk of being caught passing chits. For most people with cell phones, SMS is a fantastic way to communicate. Subodh, an advertising professional, says: "It allows you to get to the point without having to call up and go through the hello-how-are-you small talk." But why must words be shortened, vowels dropped, and hyphens bid adieu to?
'SMS costs money'
"Just because I have a cell doesn't mean I'm a rich dude," says Suguna. "SMS costs money and if I can tell all in 200 short words and 30 paise, it's stupid to send five messages just to guard grammar." Neema, an NGO worker, says: "We try to squeeze in as much information as possible in one message, so words do get scrunched up." Neema admits that she was initially enraged at what she used to call "the crippling of English". But as is known to happen very often, in her case too, functionality won over aesthetics.
Saw it coming
Devika Chandran, a teacher at a well-known school in the city, says that SMS and e-mail language have even percolated into school assignments. But she says she saw this coming a long time ago: "When we chose to put the triangular dots to represent 'therefore' after proving a maths theorem, and when we wrote 'No.' instead of 'number', it was a sign. Words do get shortened due to high usage. What's wrong in that?" Abhishek D'Nazareth, a college Physics professor says that science has used symbols and acronyms for years, and "it's not like science has regressed because of it".
Most of us SMSers also sweep out the conjunctions and sentence connectors in our messages. So something like this — movie at 1230? my chair crookd. u hv my cd. pls return — is not the spewing of a person with an acutely low attention span, but a way to say it all in one go.
Naveen Halemane, who's doing a doctoral thesis on a linguistic approach to e-English, thinks that these 'deviations' must not be considered mistakes. "They might be grammatically wrong now, but who's to say language cannot be dynamic?" he argues. But as a new digitally literate class is taking away the power to shape and define language from the likes of teachers and newspaper editors, one wonders if we should absorb 'brb's and 'gnite's into the English language. Language and the lexicon are evolving so rapidly that whenever a new word is encountered, one will have to Ask Jeeves or check with Google to be sure that it is not an ad hoc fabrication. But now, the ever useful (and comforting to many) Concise Oxford English dictionary has included 'GR8', 'emoticon', 'RUOK', and so on in its newer editions.
David Crystal, in his book Language and the Internet, dismisses the common view that online communication (he calls it Netspeak) is illiterate and dumbs down language. Much of it is non-standard, playful, phonetic, tolerant of typographic and spelling errors, and full of new words. But he is fascinated by its evolving character, variety, and innovation. He says that it "is a linguistic singularity — a genuine new medium".
Interestingly, the strongly defended SMS language is consciously avoided in messages to prospective employers, new clients, and even grandfathers. "You never know when you'll bump into a language crusader!" warns Suguna. So is it a language of familiarity? Neema responds:
"Exactly! And the worries of SMS language widening the generation gap are ridiculous. Just throw rigidity out of the window and join in."
Over to you
Joined: 07 January 2005
Funny bas.. A few months ago I had written a paper for my English class regarding this topic in reference to Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" which discussed the disintegration of language in our society today.
I do think that language in our soceity is gradually deteriorating. Not just SMS but even looking at Instant Chatting (IMs), where communicating or chatting is free but we still are too lazy to write out "i'm laughing out loud" and just with a simple "lol". These SMS and IM shortcuts are gradually comprising our languge. Sometimes I even hear students say "lol" instead of genuinely laughing and that's pretty scary if you think about it!! Such shorthard writing/speaking weakens our communication skills and soon this online jargon becomes a part of our daily language
In general terms, I don't think the English language, in its authentic form, will completely vanish. Yes, many people many resort to the language of SMS, but there are many intellectuals who still maintain grammatically correct language, and don't write "u" instead of "you" in formal papers. Thing is, if you let the online/SMS talk get to you then it can reduce your rich vocabulary, elaborate syntax, and stimulating ideas. So it really does depend on the individual not surrending his/herself to the SMS language, and maintaining convential English language for their sake, and passing on to future generations of their family.
Joined: 20 October 2004
ok i noe sum of u were waitin 4 mah response since im da biggest a wat lukz lyke da only SMS uzer here..................
ok i dun think dat writin shorthand iz gonna kill da lang. i du it all da tyme wen IMin n email frendz az well az postin here..................but if itz gotta b sumfin formal imma make sure dat grammar n punctuation iz all correct n proper.....izt not dat me or ne otha person indulged in dis style of ritin dunno english properly itz jus dat v r lazy........y type ne more den v hafta.........n also it haz bcum a norm.......wen IMin frendz most ppl (esp. teenz) dun rite properly itz a common e-language dat u itez us all n i dun fink dat itz eva gonna effect da english language az a whole
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