Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Texting, Chatting and Language

Via Public Domain Photos
I recently read Lynne Truss's Eat, Shoots and Leaves. I laughed reading the book. Like her, I need a permanent marker, paint, correction fluid, and so on to correct all the punctuation mistakes I see. Some "mistakes" are just a matter of style that Truss discusses in her book, especially commas.

I am a mix of a grammar Nazi, word nerd, and descriptive linguist. I watch where language goes and cringe at some usage (not grammar) mistakes. We need to have some structure going forward so we can communicate effectively across the generations.

I first heard about this book during my Modern American Usage class in 2006--the same year the iPhone came out. This book materialized in 2003, during an interesting technological period--texting had just become popular on cell phones, but smart phones hadn't come out yet.

Truss discussed how people thought the demise of language was at hand because of texting and chat room shorthand and emoticons. Not that people will ever stop mourning the demise of language since change is inevitable in a mortal world.

Do you think Neanderthals accused the first Neanderthal who scrawled on cave walls of destroying language?

Smartphones changed the text and chat-room shorthand trend only a few years after the book was written. Soon people switched their flip phones and full keyboard phones for smartphones. I held out for years and only switched to a smartphone 18 months ago.

Smartphones complete our words and sentences for us. Thus, we use shorthand less often, except Twitter and #hashtags. Our emoticons are actual pictures. Now auto correct causes us problems if we accidentally press the send button too soon.

Ah...language and technology.