Sdtrk: ‘Little man, what now?’ by Morrissey
So recently I was ‘surfing’ the ‘Internets’, doing some research regarding a Japanese television show that Derek and I viewed a week or so ago, called ‘Densha otoko’ (‘The Train man’). What the show’s about is irrelevant to this post, but you can learn about it here. Needless to say, we got a big kick out of it, so Derek is going to download the rest of the series as the fansubbers release them. At any rate, in scanning various websites, I read an article from a 2004 issue of the Japan Times with a paragraph that really stood out:
[I am from the] analog generation, growing up only with television and land-line phones. In fact, an article in Spa (Sept. 7) informs us of digital gaps even between those in their 20s. Twenty-eight-year-olds are the pocket-paper generation; they tend to write long, letter-style e-mails. Twenty-four-year-olds were raised on cell phones (but during the transition period to broadband Net access), while 20-year-olds have only known fixed-fee, broadband access to the Net.
For the past couple of months I’ve been lamenting to mates about how I really don’t write Emails to people as much as I used to, cos I tend to write these rather long, detail-heavy affairs that take up quite a bit of time, so I urge them to read ‘Shouting etc etc’, and I try to ring them on week-ends, when my minutes are free. But I find it rather scary that there will be a whole generation of people who can’t form proper Emails or letters, let alone paragraphs, without ‘omg hi 2 u’ or some variant being in there somewhere, or worse. It’s not so much a feeling of ‘these consarned kids with their newfangled cell-u-lar phones,’ but more like, ‘As decades pass, future generations will be less and less capable of being able to write properly’. You know, when you’re in an English writing class, much like I was a couple of semesters ago, and the teacher feels that it’s necessary to point out that when writing papers, emoticons and Internet shorthand are unacceptable, and someone asks why, and you just want to stick your index finger through your eye, and into your brain, and swirl it around, just so you have something less painful to focus on.
I’d mentioned the quoted paragraph to Allison during one of our car rides in between shoots. She remarked that she’d read somewhere of an informal study that basically said that between the advent of Email and the beginning of text messaging, people were beginning to write on a regular basis. Their literacy levels didn’t necessarily go up (I’ve always said that the Internet is the largest bastion of illiterates anywhere — AOL, I’m looking in your direction), but people were actually getting back to writing. Of course, text messaging ruined all that for everyone, and now you have sites that look like this. That sure as fuck isn’t proper English. I’m not even sure it’s proper anything.
Now, as regarding my former style of writing (for examples, check any entry to ‘Shouting etc etc’ prior to Nov 2004), I knew that I wasn’t writing in standard English, and I was perfectly capable of doing so, but I was electing not to as an experiment. A ten-year long experiment, but nevertheless. That was the main reason I stopped it, as people would look at my writing style and say ‘well he says he’s a Grammar Nazi, but look how he writes,’ without knowing why I wrote that way. But I’d be hard-pressed to believe that that lass in the blog linked above has higher aspirations for her fast-and-loose take on English. Maybe she’s got the ESL (English as a Second Language) thing going, or you can chalk it up to ‘youthful rebellion’, but I’d say it’s a combination of the herd mentality and laziness. But that’s just me.
I’m at the point where I’m attempting to phase out Internet shorthand out of my own writing; after that, I’ll work on the emoticons. I do realise that language evolves over time, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good idea
Random similar posts, for more timewasting:
On outbursts / In the style of the White Rabbit on November 23rd, 2006
Ceci n’est pas un 'Transformers: Revenge of the EXPLOSIONS' review on July 3rd, 2009