Language— a divine gift given to the human race. I have a strong admiration for language. There are thousands of languages spoken worldwide. I speak two of the top three languages in the world. I look up and take interest in many others.
Frequently, I scroll through my Facebook and Twitter accounts and find myself thinking: “what is our language coming to?” or “what disrespect to the English language…” I am no grammarian, but the English that is used in the online world is ridiculous. The words and shortcuts used online, is becoming a dialect (if I may call it that) of its own. Some of the more famous ones even get taken to the outside world, like “OMG” (oh em gee). More and more, the online slang is being spoken inside schools and among cirlces of friends.
When I attempt to correct or explain English usage to friends and family, I usually get made fun of and called an English geek. I had come to the conclusion that since English was the second language of several of my friends at school, and some of my family, that I was made fun of because they had not mastered the English language. I thought they probably had trouble with it and I was being too harsh. My cousins hated and still hate to read and write. I am the one they call when they have essays to type or letters to write. I always asked myself Why? Why the lack of motivation to look up things? Why not try to read? Like I said, I figured it was because English was not their first language. However, Facebook and Twitter proved me wrong. I have several friends young and old, who write in another language online and still misuse it, even when it is their first language. Not only do they misuse the language, but they over-abbreviate and change the sound/spelling of words—purposely! I have tried asking some of my friends and family members why they do it. The answer is usually “I don’t know” or “because it’s boring.”
I understand languages have evolved over time. Nevertheless, a huge question remains in my head: “Is the way English is being used today the laziest? And, if so, how much will it truly impact the English language?”
A quick history about language:
English derives from a language called proto-Indo-European which was spoken thousands of years ago. This original language, one of a number in the world, is the parent of various language families such as Germanic, Celtic, Hellenic, Italic, and Indo-Iranian. 1
Each branch developed its own dialects over time and English developed from the Germanic branch. As much as it has changed, we have learned to adapt and learn to keep communicating. The history of the human race lies in writings, stories, and translations that have been passed on through the centuries; it is transported through language. The reason behind the huge changes cannot be pinned. Laziness? Transcription error? Was it the writer or the speaker?
Either I am obsessed with language, or I was born into the wrong family/circle of friends, but I seem to be the only one for miles who respects our language. I find that the further in time I go, the more beautiful the English language was—I mean look at Shakespeare, he appears in theatres, poetry class, and in any English class, in general. Chaucer was also a great, poetic-like master of the English language. I can go on and on, and name several writers who manipulated the English language in such a lyrical way. My list stops some thirty years ago. Who will bear the English of our time into another century?
I simply can’t find anything romantic or poetic about the online slang; here are some examples: “FML” (f*** my life), “SMH” (shake my head), “Ur” (your), “stankin” (supposed to be stinking?), “da”(the), “dope sesh” (cool session), “rok’d” (rocked), or people using k’s instead of c’s or x’s instead of k's.
Sometimes, I have to google abbreviations and sayings in order to understand. Other times, I keep on scrolling because I am uninterested in seeing how much time a person takes to change our language, when they should be taking the time to write things the way they are supposed to be written. Technological advancements have impacted our daily lives in several ways (that's a whole other story...), but is the way it is affecting our langauge dumbing it down?
1. Treharne, Elaine. Old and Middle English c.890--c.1450. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2010.