Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Language-Hugger

I just saw a commercial for the La Cordon Bleu Culinary School that got me thinking about the English language.  Why would a commercial for a school for aspiring chefs get me thinking about language, you ask?  (Yes, you asked, you just don't remember.  Maybe you've blocked it out.  My sister's a psychologist, if you want to talk to her about it.  I almost said "therapist," but that gets her all touchy.  Apparently there's a difference).  Well, this commercial displayed a close-up of a cell phone receiving a series of text messages trying to persuade the viewer to join the Cordon Bleu institute.  It went something like this:

Hey U!
Y RU sitting on UR couch?
Don't U know that La Cordon Bleu Culinary School has over x amount of classes 2 choose from?
Isn't that gr8?
So get started 2day!
I think I cringed more during this commercial than I did when Trin and I had to clean out my hen's injured butt.  The thing is, ever since the influx of texting and social networking, us Language Arts teachers have been fighting a losing battle to preserve the integrity of the English language.  Unfortunately this new generation is so saturated with texting lingo and acronyms and shorthand that not only is cutting corners in writing the norm, but many kids don't know any other way to write.  On the other hand, I text entire paragraphs, which has got to annoy the hell out of people.  I use complete sentences, commas, apostrophes--the works--and I'll tell someone that this or that was "hysterically funny" or actually type out "haha" in lieu of LOL.  Heaven forbid you're not on Verizon, lest my one text comes to you in three or four segments.  Yeah.   So you can imagine how much phrases like isn't that gr8 just gr8 on my nerves.

But the question I have been asking myself lately is, do I need to just let it go?  Is this really a bad thing, or am I acting like the traditional ole' grandpa who refuses to use an ATM machine because he likes doing things old-school?  When you think about it, language has never been static.  Since the beginning of time language has been in a state of perpetual evolution, with new words and phrases--slang or otherwise--added to our lexicon every year, and older words such as "jirble" and "beef-witted" becoming obsolete.  Texting, e-mailing, and social networking have simply launched our language's most recent set of adaptations.  We live in a fast-paced world that no longer has the time or the wherewithal to communicate through eloquent expressions and long passages of writing.  Maybe it's time for me to quit being such a language purist and just deal with that fact.

Yet the moment I try to adjust, I'll come across an old historical document, or a diary entry from the past, or a letter.  The way people used to communicate was so beautiful and so right.   How can I let that go?

The answer?  I won't.  In the same way some people insist on listening to their music on vinyls or refuse to let the tradition of the quill pen die, I can't 'evolve' myself into a creature that writes "CU later" when I've experienced and loved language at its fullest.  But maybe our world was meant to be equipped with obsessive preservationist like myself.  Without us, things like record players and calligraphy sets and pocket watches would go extinct.  Someone needs to tell the future generation what the word 'flabbergasted' means or defile the laws of texting by throwing in the occasional adverb....Why can't that person be me?