Txt Spk – Yea/Nah?

The English language has undergone countless evolutions throughout the thousands of years it has been utilised.

From the Elizabethan Ages where Shakespeare captured the hearts of many with his eloquent dialogue in Romeo and Juliet, “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night,” and until now, where grammatical errors and misspelling plague the Internet on every platform of social media.


We’ve come a long way.

As I check my Facebook newsfeed in the morning, I cringe at what is written and refrain (with difficulty) from correcting ‘my friends’ in fear of sounding like a complete Grammar Nazi; “(Insert name here) I luv yooh so much, where 2getha 4eva baby.”  Or even, “Wat r u doin 2day? I hope your not busy babe.”

I think of the potential emotional impact words have upon us and then I read what people write and all hope just withers away into thin air.

Indeed, some people may just embrace the so-called beauty of the natural evolution of the English language, but I must ask, is this romantic in any shape or form? No. Is it necessary? No. Is this limited to Gen-Y? Probably not.

I believe the emergence of mobile phones and popular internet sites like Twitter (140 characters or less), Facebook and Myspace are partly to blame for the txt talkcrumble of conventional language, which have lead users to transform words into acronyms and numbers that ignore conventional grammar rules.

The recent inductions of LOL (Laughing Out Loud), OMG (Oh My God) and LMAO (Laughing My Ass Off) among many others to the Oxford Dictionary is due to the growing utilisation of them in e-mail, social media and even sometimes in verbal conversation. No doubt, it would have sent literary guardians like William Shakespeare and Rainer Maria Rilke turning in their graves.

It seems language has passed an irreversible point in modern age.

However, the most disappointing thing of all is not that words are being morphed beyond measure, it’s rather the fact that we are the masters of our own fate; we control our own utilisation of language.

There is a silver lining though, amidst the craze of acronyms and dropping the ‘g’ off of words, Facebook groups such as “You use ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ properly? Excuse me while I undress myself” and “I judge you when you use poor grammar” are slowly gaining members in the shadows. Maybe some of my hope has been restored.

whitneyhigginson :

  • Erica

    Good posting,

    In positing Shakespeare as the pinnacle of English language usage I would like to point out that Shakespeare's language, while beautiful, was often grammatically incorrect but we let that slide because of that handy little thing called poetic license. The rules of prose are different to the rules of poetry and there's always been a lot of conjecture over which set of rules should be applied to our friend William.

    It does seem fitting to me that the very passage used to illustrate your point has a contraction (ne'er) contained within. Perhaps text messages and tweets represent an opportunity for poetry within this social media environment? I would say there is room here for this concept. Brevity is a skill that many (myself included, if this post is anything to go by) lack, thus a shorter character limit should be seen as a challenge, rather than a restriction.

    Being encouraged to use one word – "brevity" for example, rather than a string of other words to describe precisely what we are talking about, is certainly a positive step! There are few instances where meaning cannot be conveyed by the skillful use of language. We should however, be encouraging use of appropriate words, rather than ripping out vowels and creating new numeral based phonetics to say what we mean in the space allowed.

  • Jeremy Garnett

    One of the wonderful yet scary things about language is that it is forever changing.
    Conventional language, as you call it, is a relatively new invention. Even as short a period of a hundred years ago, the use and spelling of many words was vastly different. The most obvious example of this in recent times would be the word "gay". Though I much prefer it's jovial meaning, I must admit, it's use has changed.
    For further examples of these changes, merely look at the original language of Shakespeare, which can be found at….
    It wasn't until the 18th and 19th centuries that the English Language was codified, and the first dictionaries were produced. This was worked on by those self-same people who developed scientific thinking, the Natural Philosophers, many of whom also dabbled in alchemy.
    At their time, paper was the most common medium, and newly developed machinery meant that it was suddenly readily available. (Previously paper was made laboriously by hand.)
    Thus more people of the younger generations were experimenting with writing, and language evolved.

    Is it, therefore, any surprise that as the younger generations, including myself, become increasingly familiar with the online medium, that language is once more evolving?
    If this distresses you, as it does me, with my love of perfect grammar, then look at this bright side. Until recently, Latin was still taught in most schools. If this development had happened merely one generation or two earlier, think of the consequences.