Someone by the name of Mr. Martinez sent me this email the other day. The message struck me as unique, given that it was rather well written (and I’m quite used to receiving incoherent blather). He believes that the English language is headed towards a meltdown…
The Internet has given me endless opportunities to contact people – to exchange ideas, opinions and concerns with them. Having English as my 3rd language (in Europe, we have to learn three languages in school) sometimes results in me accidently communicating in a malformed structure. This is, however, not much of a problem with other people – so long as I can form coherent sentences.
I have, during the last few years, encountered a distinctive (and obvious) degradation of the English language online among people that carry the English language as their mother tongue. It is sometimes mind-blowing how poorly people spell and form sentences – and this coming from people who have spoken and written English far longer than I have!
I have often found on forums and chat rooms people who were born in the U.S., raised in the U.S., but cannot (for the life of them) spell correctly, form sentences correctly, etc. Some of the American people I chat with have so many poorly formed sentences that you cannot possibly understand what it is they’re trying to say.
This all began, I believe, with the emergence of SMS – where you had a limited amount of characters and you had to compress words, use acronyms frequently, and find shortcuts to get your message through the very limited space you could use. This, I find inexcusable to use on the Internet, since there are really no restrictions on how many letters you are allowed to use in one message. [Editor’s note: Twitter may be the exception.]
I know that you studied English as well, and I notice that during your live feeds, you often correct people’s mistakes (which I think is the right thing to do) – and you always put emphasis on how important it is that people learn how to communicate clearly.
Do you believe there is a degradation of the English language online?
Do you believe that this degradation will get worse, or do you believe it’s just a phase? What is your opinion about “text speak” and “elite speak” – the kind of “speak” where you either leave out vowels completely, or substitute letters with numbers. Do you encourage spell checkers in browsers, or should people just learn not to butcher the English language when expressing themselves online?
I’m curious to hear your opinion from someone who has studied English as a Major in University – or just make another live feed of it so I can watch it on YouTube later.
Yes, it’s frustrating to see that few people seem to care about how they compose their digital presence anymore. You’d have been laughed off the newsgroups if you flew in there displaying nothing more than a molecule of what might be considered intelligence. Now, we’re face to face with the AOL’ification of the English language.
Let me put it to you this way: if you can’t write your way out of a coherent sentence, my respect level for you automatically drops by half. I don’t care if you’re seventeen or seventy – if you can use a keyboard, learn to use your language skills.
I’m not bothered by ‘1337’ speak (or random truncations), but I am bothered by poor punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or idiocy, but I just don’t think you have much of a future if you can’t string together more than two words.