Friday, March 16, 2012

English: The Text Generation

Being in my mid/late thirties, I’m not “old” by any stretch of the imagination, or at least I don’t think I am.  That said, I have noticed something lately that I must admit is making me feel older, and completely out of touch with today’s younger generation.

When I was a kid growing up in Canada, there were basically two languages that we had to learn, or at least be exposed to – English, and French.  I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of English by now, and my French, well, let’s just say I could probably fumble my way through it well enough to order a croissant and a coffee, so I probably wouldn’t starve to death in Quebec.  Nowadays however, there is a whole new language, one that I cannot for the life of me figure out.  That is the language of “texting”.

First problem:  I don’t text.  Maybe if I did I’d eventually get the hang of it, but in all honesty, it doesn’t interest me at all.  That's right, I'm an anti-textite.  Hey, if you're going to make up words, so am I.  And if preferring email over texting makes me old fashioned, well then I guess I’m old fashioned.  If the thought of that blows your mind, just wait!  I like using my “mobile device” as an actual telephone, and like, talk to people on it!!  Crazy, I know!!!

What I’m finding most disturbing is that this apparent new language has somehow found its way into mainstream English language, and that is what’s causing me all sorts of problems.  At least when it was used only in text messages, it was contained within a controlled environment where I didn't have to be exposed to it, but now it's everywhere!  Every word or statement now seems to have a short form, and unless you’re in the know, trying to read something written in this new language is not all that different from trying to interpret ancient hieroglyphs.  LOL is short for “laugh out loud” (that’s right, isn’t it?).  Oh, and I think I know what LMFAO means, but that’s only because of the weird music group with that dancing guy with the robot box on his head, which I don’t really get either, but the kids seem to like it.  That’s it, that’s all I know.  I see people writing all sorts of other short form words or statements, and then people respond using slightly different short form words or statements, and I don’t have a clue what they’re saying.  They aren’t talking about me, are they?

Webster’s Dictionary is now even adding these types of short form words and statements, again providing evidence as to how mainstream this new language has become.  How thick is the friggin' dictionary now anyway?  Do they even still print it, or has it been reduced to nothing more than a free “app” on one of those fancy new phones?  It must be an absolute nightmare for today's teachers trying to mark essays and exams.  What is considered “correct” English nowadays anyway?  Seriously, I don’t know.

Punctuation was important when I learned to read and write, and we learned that each mark had its own specific purpose.  Now punctuation marks are used primarily for making smiley faces.  I don't remember seeing smiley faces in any of my text books.  And did you know that writing in all capital letters is considered the equivalent of yelling?  If I want to yell at somebody, not to suggest I do it frequently, I think I’d prefer to do it either face to face, or at least over the phone, thereby more effectively expressing my degree of anger.  All capital letters in a typed message just doesn’t seem to have the same impact.  I can’t see myself stomping away upset because someone was so mad at me that they sent me an all CAPS message.  Oooooooooo, you sure told me!

When I learned to type, it was with all 10 fingers, on an actual typewriter, you know, one of those gadgets that you wind the paper into, type until it dings, then hit the return button to start over on the next line.  Now all these young folk type with their thumbs.  Just their thumbs.  They probably don't even know what a typewriter is.  

And why are all these short form words and statements even needed in the first place?  Why are these kids in such a hurry?  It's not like they have a job to go to, and likely won't anytime soon unless they learn how pants are meant to be worn.    

As I’m typing this, I’ve noticed that the voice in my head has begun to sound an awful lot like Andy Rooney.  I'm not too concerned if any of my younger readers don't know who Andy Rooney is, as they probably haven’t continued reading to this point anyway… too many words.  LOL.


  1. Amen.

    Thanks for blogging Dave - always enjoyable.


  2. Thanks Meredith. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as my opinionated rants go, but I think it's best if I ease into it slowly so as not to offend, oh, just about everybody :) (see what I did there, I made a happy little smiley face).

  3. I couldn't agree with you more. Young people don't learn or understand the English language at all. Not like we did when we were young. And it's because they don't HAVE to. While we were writing letters long-hand, they type short blubs with their thumbs that are automatically spell-checked for them.

    They use something call "chat speak" and they think it counts as a language. Kinda makes me crazy.

    I used to think they were lazy. I think Twitter is responsible for a lot of it. And it's only a matter of time before thumbs become obsolete and everything is voice recognition!