Language lessons from a language lover

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Opinion Editor April Knutson

Opinion Editor April Knutson

This is a column that I have been waiting to write. It pertains to one my pet peeves. Do forgive me, as it has long festered in my fingers as I continue to lament the sad, sad deterioration of our language.

Texting, facebooking and leet speak warp words, add letters and elongate one syllable words to long, drawn-out ridiculous exclamations, like the meaning of these re-sculpted words is directly related to the amount of key strokes it takes to type them.

It doesn’t matter the sentiment. Happy, sad or surprised, more letters mean a more exuberant reaction.

For example:

  • Omggggggggggg, thaat’s sooo coool.
  • Noooo, I missss you!
  • Yesss, lets’ do it.
  • Loook at my hur (referring to hair)

Now I am in favor of self-expression, but when did it become a symbol of “cool” to misspell words, add letters and such?

English, or in particular the American version, is a hodge-podge of influences from many nations. Our rich history has added words, transformed spellings and refined figures of speech including the recent patriotic phrasing of “Murica.”

I suppose the American poet E.E. Cummings would agree with all of you. He used unique typography to create interesting work. His quest for self-expression led him to disregard common rules of punctuation and syntax.

The internet or texting allows for more flexible rules of communication. But this exposure to constant relativity of language infiltrates into everyday uses. I fear soon therewillbenoneedforspaces, “you” will be shrunk to “u” and capitalizing “i” will be a long lost legend.

Perhaps I am alone in being irked by this slow progression to shorting, twisting and omitting words. But it doesn’t take long to find proper words to communicate effectively. Language is rich and interactive. We are cheating it by dumbing it down, lazily using extra letters to emphasize our points. Please observe some alternatives to the above expressions:

  • Wow, that is really interesting.
  • No, my friend, I miss your company.
  • Yes, that particular activity sounds really fun.
  • This is my new hairstyle.

Self-expression is relevant and language is fluid, but let’s retain some of our refinement even in fast-paced, period-less, digital lives.

BY APRIL KNUTSON
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2 responses to “Language lessons from a language lover

  1. Pingback: Time is flying in 2013 – aprilknutson·

  2. I concede to your argument in regards to the lazy and uncommunicative use of language. But really the fault there lies in the thought behind what is being written, as your example shows. I know the annoying people who post crap like that to Facebook, but it’s not their language that’s the problem, it’s what they’re saying.

    Language is about communication. When I send the text, “I missssss yoooooouu so much omgwtficanteven” I am not communicating the same thing as “I miss you” My message is very different, and communicated through a cultural language that I identify as my own and feel more comfortable using. As long as the rules, or some rules of grammar exist, so that I am understood, I don’t believe language is being perverted. And I do text my friends stuff like that, and I do talk to them online like that. Because language is not sacred! It’s an expression of who I am and where I come from. If I speak in ebonics, it doesn’t make me any less educated than if I speak perfect English.

    Regardless, I’m pretty sure your ire is directed more towards lifeless communications from people who can’t express themselves or don’t have anything worthwhile to express. I’m with you there. But don’t mix up the awesomeness that is different cultures taking language and making it their own, and the wonderful changing nature of expression. Even if that culture is weird internet nerdy people who like to use capslock and don’t use spaces.

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