My own linguistic evolution, English
Many years ago, I counted myself as a member of the group so affectionately called “language Nazis”. One of those guys who got upset when people couldn’t spell advanced words like “the” or “if”.
I used to take great pride in my eloquence and feel a bit slighted if people couldn’t spell basic words. My own texts seemed littered with fancy words and flowery prose. They were polished, and… quite frankly: not very good. I don’t mean to say that my texts now are good but at least they can be understood by normal fuckin’ human beings. The lesson that words are only of any use if those reading them can understand what you are trying to convey was a very healthy one, and one that led me to be more prolific but also a lot more… well… me. I no longer obsessively polish and tweak my words, but rather write them down as they come to capture the emotion or reason behind them and if I feel it is necessary, I can polish it later. There is still time. I rarely do, though.
While I can still feel a surge of annoyance at misspelled words and clumsy grammar, the reason for my irritation has shifted. No longer am I bothered by the spelling error in and of itself, or the person behind it. No, what bugs me more is the attitude behind it. If you’re dyslectic or struggling with a language that isn’t your native tongue I cannot only live with your errors – they don’t bother me in the least. Being wrong and failing isn’t something that should be frowned upon… rather the opposite. Kevin Smith once said that he looks upon failure as “success training”, and I think he’s on to something here. If you do not make mistakes, how will you ever improve? And… unless you are born perfect you DO have to improve. Or rather you should want to improve.
The thing that really gets under my skin isn’t the people who try and can’t get it quite right… but rather those who do not care to try at all. Those delightful people who have not only the ability but the means of doing it right at their very fingertips and still manage to screw it up due to being a bunch of lazy pricks hiding behind dyslectics. Not only are you sabotaging yourselves, you are also making life for actual dyslectics harder. Now, don’t get me wrong… I am by no means perfect when it comes to spelling (and certainly not grammar), but when I who use English as my second or possibly third language (depending on where you start counting) have to correct the spelling of my American and English friends, isn’t it time to sit down and think good and hard about what the fuck is going on?
Another lesson that I’ve learned is that language is a living thing; it continually evolves and changes with the times. It might not be my idea of evolution, but… survival of the fittest, and all that. In this case, internet shorthand might actually win the battle over the “proper” words, even if I’ll fight it until the last fucking pained breath leave my body. I might be old fashioned, but I’d rather take a kick in the cock before I start using “CU L8R” instead of “Farewell, peace be with you.” I’m hoping that evolution of the fittest will take the road it has with us humans. It used to mean that the most physically fit person got to screw around with a lot more females than the scrawny kid, but as we evolve further and further away from having to wrestle our dinner before we eat it and closer and closer to using our brains as weapons in the fight for survival this paradigm no longer holds true. Sure, the dude with the six-pack abs will still be the most popular guy at the club, but luckily I’ve noticed that women don’t all search for their partners in dimly lit rooms with too loud music. Anyway. If this shift holds true for language as well, I might not have to live to see the literature I hold so dear be destroyed by internet shorthand, l33tsp34k and the likes. It’s bad enough that LOL isn’t just an abbreviation anymore but also a word.
I’d like to end this text with a question… or rather, a plea and a question. If you are one of the many thousands out there who type things like “l8r” and “CU” or “2morrow”, consider this:
If it’s not worth the energy to press those few extra keys on your keyboard to make the text legible for those of us with an actual brain… is it really worth typing at all? Please, either write the entire word or STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!