Home | Page 3 | Index Page

Gallery L

I C U - LOL :)

Electronic Communication Destroying Writing Skills

By James Donahue

While there a lot of excellent writers posting well thought articles and even books on line, there has been a noticeable deterioration of writing, spelling and communication skills appearing on popular mass communication sites like Facebook and Twitter.

As a former newspaper and book writer and editor, and English Literature and journalism as major subjects in my college studies, I have been especially sensitive to poorly written sentences, spelling errors, and most horrible of all, the substitution of letters for whole words.

There has, in fact, developed a whole vocabulary of letter combinations that have "coded" meanings to the young people "in the loop" but leave the rest of us scratching our heads when we see them.

Some of the "slang" expressions are relatively easy to translate. For example, BRB means "I will be right back," or CU for "I will see you." Then there is the common LOL which means "laugh out loud." But when it comes to some of the other terms like BTW, idk,1o1 or ayk, most of us are left in the dark. There are entire internet jargon dictionaries on the web to assist in translating this new language.

A recent report in BBC News noted that because the Internet is global, with an estimated 4.5 billion web pages now available to read in many languages, it is having an effect on the English language, which is the most common language being used.

The story said some linguists are predicting that within 10 years English will dominate the Internet, but it will have evolved in forms very different to what we recognize as English today.

Unlike the United States, where most people learn only English in school, except in states where Spanish is commonly used, children in many other parts of the world learn English as a second language. Thus when on line, they can easily communicate with other non-native writers by using English. But what is happening among all of the younger chat room and text users is that they are less concerned about proper grammar and spelling, and turn, instead to a common form of phonics to create the words in their messages.

Unless they are using Skype or Yahoo Messenger to communicate verbally, these people also are not concerned about accents. They just have to connect their words in a form of English, and the message can be received and understood by most of the Internet users anywhere in the world.

There is something exciting about this international means of communicating. For example some years ago, when Yahoo offered a variety of chat rooms for people with a wide range of interests, I managed to have interesting conversations with people in places like China, Mexico, and even the South Pole. That kind of global communication has obviously been a key to a growing international understanding that people all over the world are just like us. It has helped me come to the conclusion that there is no reason ever to go to war with other nations because of boundary or ideological differences. Once you have an Internet friend in Iran, or China, or Russia, the thought of ever going to war against that person’s country becomes an abhorrent thought. Who can ever shoot at someone you consider a friend?

As a student of the English language, however, I mourn the invasion of good writing skills. I notice that many Internet stories and newspaper articles are showing spelling and grammar errors. I even see them in the floating news banners at the bottom of the screen when watching CNN or Fox News stations. Sometimes I feel the impulse to come out of retirement and go to the aid of these various contemporary writers who are obviously so caught up in the rush of getting their jobs done, they don’t have time to run spell-checks or grammar checks on the text they are producing.

I have been an ardent book worm since the day I walked into the library in my home town and was introduced to the excitement of reading good stories. My father was a science fiction buff and kept a stack of paperback books in his bedroom closet. Once I discovered them, I too grew to love science fiction. I soon turned to great literature, and once in college, majored in English Literature, and earned enough credits in American Literature that I could have chosen that field as a minor.

After years of writing and editing the English language, I am sensitive to correct grammar and spelling, and especially enjoy a well-written story. While I am happy to see a growing trend toward an international language because of the Internet, I think I will surely miss the great literature we have enjoyed for so long.