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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Deteriorating English?

    Hi everyone,

    As I carry on my day to day activities swimming in the river that is middle America, I frequently find myself using such communications modes as "texting" on my cell phone, sending e-mails, or chatting on the internet on such software as Yahoo or MSN.

    Here is my issue: I am increasingly bothered by the destruction of the English language through such modes. Using 'u' in place of 'you' displays laziness to me. Someone writing 'tnx' or ‘thx’ does NOT make me feel as though the writer is actually thankful. x is not an appropriate substitute for 'cks'. A number should NEVER be a substitute for a word which is not that same number. (ne1, 4evr) Children and adults alike are using this truncated version of a beautiful language which, when written well, is like a painting on a canvas. "im looking 4 a friend! ur nice! will u b my friend?" These sentences are callus, choppy, UGLY, and give no satisfaction when read.

    When I read through a piece of literature, thoughts flow through my mind as the words flow across the page and dance with my mental imagery. When I come upon a spelling mistake, (those happen. Those are forgivable) it is like running into a sharp rock when I am floating down a river in my kayak. I have to stop, pull out my oar, and paddle around the rock before I can continue on my way. That's just spelling mistakes. When it is a butchering of the English language, I am stopped just short of physical anxiety.

    The use of 'your' vs 'you're' as well as 'there', 'they're' and 'their' was taught in preschool. Using them improperly is something I fail to understand. These aren't just a matter of saving time. If someone is taking the time to write there, they could have written they're if that was the proper word to use.

    So I ask myself, is it laziness? Is it Apathy? Is it lack of education?

    I was told by someone that languages evolve. I was told by someone to just get used to it because languages will change to fit the cultures in which they are used. NO THANK YOU. I will have NO part in this debauchery. I salute EVERY SINGLE teacher out there who will NEVER allow such carelessness and apathy be taught and practiced in his/her classroom. If this type of writing is not restrained, swiftly slammed, or even mildly encouraged, then I see English becoming an ugly language in which it does not deserve to have poems and epic novels written. I see a language that looks more like a code than a coherent compilation of history and culture.

    I feel I am preaching to the converted, but I had to get this off my chest and would like to see what opinions and experiences exist out there about this weak wielding of the English language. Am I overreacting? I love English, and I spent many many years holding pride in my grasp of the English language, albeit pale in comparison with the authors of the world. It is like Tiger Woods perfecting his golf game, then someone saying to him "Well Tiger, we're making it acceptable for players to just pick up their own ball from the tee and walking it down the fairway and placing it in the middle however far down they wish to play it." It is NOT easy to write English well. It takes practice and passion.


    Sincerely,
    Skrymik


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #2

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    First, let me welcome you to UsingEnglish, Skrymik.

    There have been, for centuries, many complaints identical to yours, and I'm only being frank and honest, they've never amounted to much. Language takes care of itself, it always has and it always will.

    Text messaging is no different than, say, Morse Code and I'm sure that you'll agree that English has survived that with little difficulty.

    Have a read of this article,

    "The Decline of Grammar" by G Nunberg. Here's a short excerpt.

    But while it is understandable that speakers of a language with a literary tradition would tend to be pessimistic about its course, there is no more hard evidence for a general linguistic degeneration than there is reason to believe that Aaron and Rose are inferior to Ruth and Gehrig.

    Most of my fellow linguists, in fact, would say that it is absurd even to talk about a language changing for the better or the worse. When you have the historical picture before you, and can see how Indo-European gradually slipped into Germanic, Germanic into Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Saxon into the English of Chaucer, then Shakespeare, and then Henry James, the process of linguistic change seems as ineluctable and impersonal as continental drift. From this Olympian point of view, not even the Norman invasion had much of an effect on the structure of the language, and all the tirades of all the grammarians since the Renaissance sound like the prattlings of landscape gardeners who hope by frantic efforts to keep Alaska from bumping into Asia.

    The long run will surely prove the linguists right: English will survive whatever "abuses" its current critics complain of. And by that I mean not just that people will go on using English and its descendants in their daily commerce but that they will continue to make art with it as well.

    Do You Speak American . What Speech Do We Like Best? . Correct American . Decline | PBS
    There are some other links at the link, above, that you can click on that discusses this topic further.

    Regards,
    riverkid

  2. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Thank you riverkid, both for the warm welcome and the information! Those articles made a lot of sense, though I will have to disagree with the authors. Although the articles did put my concern to rest, and I may just chalk it up to a pet peeve rather than a concern, I must note that it would be so wonderful if we preserved the "old English" manners of speaking. I guess that is what I truly miss. Those must have been such wonderful days.

  3. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    (not a professional teacher) On the sdpecific issue of "txtspk", here is an article that examines the phenomenon as it occurs in several languages, and here is an amusing piece on the history of the phenomenon, which might help put it into perspective.

    If you get the chance, read Guy Deutscher's "The Unfolding of Language", an excellent work written by a linguist for non-proessionals. One of my favourite passges is his compilation of recorded complaints about the degradation of English, from Orwell back to Swift and beyond. Almost invariably, those complaining foresaw the inevitable collapse and disintegration of English. It makes for an entertaining read.

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    #5

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Text messaging is no different than, say, Morse Code and I'm sure that you'll agree that English has survived that with little difficulty.
    And very similar to the language used in telegraphs and telegrams. However, there are some concerns, in the UK at least, that some young people's written language schools don't go much beyond texting.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    And very similar to the language used in telegraphs and telegrams.
    I agree, there is a difference though. Whereas Morse Code, telegraphs and telegrams wer used by a relatively small number of people,(I have never used any of them, nor has anyone I know) texting is used by almost everyone I know and is still increasing in use. I don't know if this makes a substantial difference or not but I do know that the ability to spell correctly has definately diminished in the last 20 to 25 years.


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    #7

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I agree, there is a difference though. Whereas Morse Code, telegraphs and telegrams wer used by a relatively small number of people,(I have never used any of them, nor has anyone I know) texting is used by almost everyone I know and is still increasing in use. I don't know if this makes a substantial difference or not but I do know that the ability to spell correctly has definately diminished in the last 20 to 25 years.
    I'm not making fun of you, Bhaisahab. It's happened to me too. There's got to be a name for this or at least there should be.

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I'm not making fun of you, Bhaisahab. It's happened to me too. There's got to be a name for this or at least there should be.
    Its called computer psychosis perhaps, I find that writing on a computer screen is completely different to writing on a sheet of paper or on a blackboard, especially when, like me, one types with two fingers.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Its called computer psychosis perhaps, I find that writing on a computer screen is completely different to writing on a sheet of paper or on a blackboard, especially when, like me, one types with two fingers.
    Internet-induced grammatical degeneration perhaps? People who suffer from this are generally aware of it. For a psychosis, you generally need delusions which are not amenable to logic. [/medical]
    I'm not fully convinced yet that anyone on this forum is psychotic, but I keep an open mind.

  7. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Deteriorating English?

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    I'm not making fun of you, Bhaisahab. It's happened to me too. There's got to be a name for this or at least there should be.

    There is a name for it, in Usenet. It's a law of Usenet that any spelling "flame" will contain at least one typo. Sadly, I can't remember what the name of the law is.

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