Grandma's Tales

December 26, 2006

Grammar – 21 SMSish is news again!

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 10:20 pm

Yesterday, Washington Post ran a story titled
IM shorthand slips into schoolwork. Students use ‘b4,’ ‘b/c’ and ‘culd’ in essays

In previous posts I have covered most of what’s being said, but it’s worth repetition. Excerpts:
In 2004, 16 million teenagers used instant messages to communicate, up from 13 million in 2000, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Students say IM language has become so ubiquitous they often do not realize they have lapsed into it.

One student said: “I’m in AP literature, where you just can’t put it into your writing, but when I’m writing something informal, now and again I use it.”

Commenting on the informality of student communication, an associate professor shared one of his favorite pieces of correspondence: “hi prof how are u culd u tell me my xm grade – tim.”

He added: “It bothers me at one level, but I try not to let it get under my skin,” he said. “But I am concerned [students] won’t be successful if they don’t know how to communicate on a formal basis. The first time they send a goofy message to the boss, they’re going to be out.”

One teacher wrote a paragraph on Chaucer using the same phrases that students sprinkled their writing with and asked them to read it. The kids laughed, but one hopes, got the point.

Look what a professor of English said about IM language: “The drawback of text messaging is that most services limit the messages to 30 words, and the ingenious young writers using that service have created symbols and abbreviations that lead to a very cryptic method of communication that does not lend itself to being transferred to academic writing.”

Coincidentally, I found the following in my inbox. It took me quite some time to make sense of this. In fact, half way through I lost all interest and clicked it off. Ironically, the message is supposed to be pleasant reading. It’s supposed to help you decide whether or not to watch the movie. As a piece of communication, this fails. Miserably.

I got to watch XXX 2day. He has tried it v.differenlty this time. The message tht he has conveyed is “Fate is n one’s own hand”—We decide our own Fate…thtz wat z the ultimate msg.
I wudn’t say the movie is gud–but there r lotsaa msges if observed v.carefully. Not everybody will like the movie. I felt many sweet little things–proper ideas showed its head:)… those were really really nice.(I mean lotsa msges…a part of the movie). Well, there are scenes whchz not necessary at all. Cud be framed n a diff’ way.
A (shez cute luking and resemblz “Mandira Bedi”) and B(Heroine nd’ Hero)—>>thy really need to improve  as far as expressions are concerned. Over-xpressions and unwanted xpressions. But at the same time, thy shud equally be aprreciated as this being their first film. We cnt xpect sumthing gr8 4rum sumbody whoz b4 the camera 4 the first time. If seen tht ways, thy hv tried..really tried.
I shudn’t forget to mention abt the songs…2-3 songs are vvvvvv.gud(uff. .forgot the lyrics:( !! And n the climax…”Full dialogue using the word “FINE”…Thtz actually a sweet and v.sensible dailogue. Bits and pieces of Humour also peeped n…I wud say few things will really make us think(only if observed)… otherswise. .on the whole, the movie is okay.

My problems:
[1] The guesswork. I’m constantly asked to read the word properly by contextualising it. If “message” can be “msg”, why can’t “messages” be simply “msgs”? An “e” creeps in here.

[2] If contracting is the game here, why is “lots of” written as “lotsaa” and “lotsa”? Spelling errors in text message language! That’s rich!

[3] And “cud” for “could”? I know, I know, “could” has a silent letter, but the “cou” in it allows me to pronounce it as “coo”. But “cud” rhymes with “dud”. Same with “shud”.

[4]  “4rum” is actually “frrum”, a terrible way to say “from”, where the “r” is soft.

[5] What is really alarming is this: once you begin to write like this on a regular basis, poor spelling gets a thumbs-up. Look how a lot of words are mis-spelt. Since I’m mangling the spellings anyway, why bother about spellings at all? Let my reader make sense of all this!

I take it as an insult to the reader. For me, this writer joins the community of ill-mannered people. His/her mail will now get the “hit-the-delete-button treatment the second it appears in my inbox.


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