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?

8 comments:

  1. I'm with Shannon, this post is awesome. Also, I'm in the same boat as you. I refuse to give in to the evolution of language into some sort of simplisic phonetic jumble of letters and numbers. Further, I also refuse to ignore it when my students use "u" when they mean "you," use "cuz" when they mean "because," and the like. In academic papers, that's uncalled for. Oh, and I get after my mom when she texts me using text language. I want complete sentences with complete words. It's not too much to ask.

    I also refuse to give up the oxford comma, but that might be another discussion for another time. ;)

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    1. Glad to hear that I'm not alone in my insanity! Although...the Oxford comma? What the heck is that? (I see a google search looming in my near-future). P.S. I'm guilty of using 'cuz' when I'm purposely trying to sound flippant about something. Which brings up another debate topic: Is bad grammar acceptable when it's being used stylistically? (I vote yes...I do this for the word 'like' too).

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  2. And after reading that comment, I get after myself for the poor word choices and grammar. :P

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    1. Ha! I do that for every comment I write.

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  3. Jodi, I'm sorry to say this but I think we're the same person. I'm like the only person I know among my friends that send full texts, complete with everything. Sometimes, it means I have to send two texts instead of one (and pay extra) but I just can't.
    And sometimes, it's on the tip of my tongue to tell my friends I cringe reading their texts but thank God I haven't. Some people might stop talking to me.

    "So you can imagine how much phrases like isn't that gr8 just gr8 on my nerves."--- this line wins the day.

    P.S: I'm sorry for being such a lousy CP of late :( My thoughts have been here and there...so scattered. But I'll give you the long run-down when I send my email.
    But I'm getting back my sanity. Matter of fact, maybe reading this blog post has given it back to me.

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  4. It's okay Ify, I figured out we were the same person a long time ago. ;)

    I go through that same struggle! But I decided years ago that having good spelling/grammar can not be a contingency for my friendships, or else I'd have no friends. So I let all of it go and just remind myself that this is "today's language." And then I go and write a blog post about it. :-D

    You pay for each individual text? OUCH. They don't have unlimited texting out there in the Grenadines?

    P.S. (to your P.S)--Don't even worry about CPing until you're done with your writing marathon--and until you've screwed your head back on. ;) It's YOUR turn to get some writing done.

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