Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Texting + Grammar = Malfunction

I was sitting in a Sunday School class a little while back, and a scribe was writing ideas on the board that were being shouted out by class members. He wrote the following:

"Commandments r important. Keep up safe."

A moment later, he read back through it and added an "a" and an "e" on the "r." But he did not change "up" into "us." How many of you even noticed this error?

I believe the reason he didn't catch it is because when you text using T9 Word, you type "87" and it types "up." Then the conscientious grammatician will scroll through until it says "us."

However, most people don't proofread their texts, so the recipients have to train themselves to know that when it says "up" and that doesn't make sense, they probably meant to say "us." The same goes for "in" and "go," as well as "he" and "if," and many other words.

I firmly believe that texting and instant messaging are decimating people's capacity to utilize their own language. I just wrote a rant on it here in my personal blog. One of my classmates also wrote about this subject on her blog: Editing for the Real World.

I have believed for a long time that some serious reform needs to happen with education, especially with English, because clearly people have very few ideas on how to correctly speak or write. Technology has the potential to help us or hinder us greatly.

Just for fun, I made a list of the dos and don'ts of texting.
The following are acceptable reasons to text:

  • Clarifying meeting time/circumstances with someone
  • Announcing a party/reminding of a party
  • A quick check in with someone, hopefully accompanied by the promise of a future phone call/letter/visit
  • Something reminded you of someone and you want to tell them before you forget
  • You're not sure if a person is available to talk and you want to find out
  • Asking a simple question that can be answered quickly
The following are unnacceptable reasons:
  • Asking a complex, thought provoking question that will lead to a deep conversation
  • Getting to know someone
  • Expressing love and devotion (unless it is commonly expressed in other ways as well, then a text of this nature can just be a pleasant surprise)
  • Figuring out details of a situation that are complicated and will require a lot of attention
  • Any text conversation that lasts several hours
  • Arguing
  • Asking someone out
  • Breaking up with someone
I'm not completely sure how to fix this problem, except on a individual basis. Later, I expect I will make another post with more suggestions, once I do some research. For now, let us all make a goal to use complete sentences, complete words, and punctuation in our messaging, as well as appropriate subject matter.


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