By Kelsey Albina
There are two sides to every argument. And TBH, I had my mind made up about which side I fell on before I started to write this. (Oh, TBH means “to be honest,” BTW.)
Texting. Social media. Instant messaging. Is it ruining the English language? Is it affecting my comma or punctuation usage? I would’ve vehemently said “yes” just yesterday. Then I did some research on language and its evolution. I also read some studies on how technology is impacting how we learn and process the English language. And my thoughts have changed – even if I still refuse to drop a word’s vowels on purpose when pecking away at my cell phone.
Reading in acronyms is annoying. And I don’t appreciate when the English language is butchered to make words incorrect. I cringe when my phone autocorrects “were” to “we’re” when I fully intended to exclude the apostrophe. I correct my friends when they use the wrong “their/there/they’re” in a text message. But there’s something cool about language changing as society changes. That is, after all, how our language was created.
John McWhorter writes in his 2013 Time essay, “Texting properly isn’t writing at all – it’s actually more akin to spoken language. The argument that texting is ‘poor writing’ is analogous, then, to one that the Rolling Stones is ‘bad music’ because it doesn’t use violas.”
Just as the meanings of words morph over time, language changes, too. We don’t get upset when others say “that’s awful” to describe “terrible” rather than “inspiring awe.”
Does it mean that the shortened language we use while texting or posting to social media is killing grammar and the structure of the English language? Not necessarily. Maybe it’s a chance for us to adapt, as well, and to really hone in on the differences between written, spoken and texted communication.