Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Destroying the English language

...one chat at a time. Courtesy of ilani ilani comes linkage to an article in the Chicago Maroon, AOL-speak is destroying languageā€™s beauty. Let's see what our writer has to say.
Language is precious, and being able to express oneself through writing, even in something as apparently trivial as an e-mail, is vital.
Trivial? Was that email you sent to your professor asking for an extension trivial?
AOL-speak strips all the beauty and nuance out of written language, converting it to a means rather than its own end, shifting the emphasis from quality of self-expression and communication to sheer speed, efficiency, and volume of dispatches. Personal communication used to mean something; people took time in the composition of correspondence and invested something of themselves in it. Now, however, cookie-cutter abbreviations have overrun the realm of language, leaving it a bleak, monosyllabic wasteland.
I'm sorry, but this is terribly confused. Rather than a means to efficiency, the use of abbreviations ARE that very self-expression the author talks about. OK, so we still need to do the studies on how much time abbreviations save you, but our hunch is not much, right?
Not everything one writes should aim to be high Shakespearean art. Yet writing should provide a source of pride. Anything a person writes, even if it is a quick e-mail, expresses something about him or her and comments on who he or she is. Language is not merely a means but an end in itself, a fundamental method of self-expression. It is something to be reveled in, played with, and enjoyed as our greatest, most enduring cultural inheritance, not cheapened, commodified, and distilled to its barest essence. Efficiency of communication is not all that really matters.
AIMspeak is play, dude! Get with it!

Alas, colleagues, I write this not to lampoon a college reporter who clearly struggles with anal retentiveness - there are plenty of people like that, and it's not my place to judge them. Rather, I write this to encourage you to check out the comments section of both the article, and also a link to the article on digg.com. It's a beauteous little dataset of language ideology-heavy comments. Enjoy!

omg shakespeare used CONTRACTIONS.

i'm so over the kind of language ideologies surrounding informal CMD registers.

i am, however, completely pleased to see the small handful of commenters on that site saying that this is just a natural process of language change and adaptation. hee.

well-played, LM.

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