Grammatically speaking

April 6, 2010

OMG i jst herd da koolest story LOL itz soooo gr8 ROFL 2 tru luv u L8R

Does anyone else’s head hurt? Sorry I had to put you through that, but I’m trying to prove a harsh point. What you just read (if you could even read it) is unfortunately similar to a great deal of the writing done by children, teens, and adults as a direct result of modern technology.

If I had to guess, I’d say it all goes back to the notes kids pass around in school. They are usually written in some form of shorthand so that they can be created quickly and passed on to their intended reader. Then there was instant messaging and beeper lingo, followed by texting. Facebook status messages followed. Now, there’s Twitter. Who knows what will be next to distort our poor language.

I was a writing tutor during college and couldn’t believe the papers students were brought me. Poor grammar, terrible spelling (even with spell check!), crazy punctuation, no thesis statements, no sentence structure… some of those papers were just unbearable! What was causing such widespread, terrible writing?

My only thought continues to be that writing skills across the board are being negatively affected by the proliferation of shorthand tech outlets available to young children. If they are exposed to this style of writing from a young age, it’s hard to blame them when they reach college and cannot draft a proper introduction.

And it’s not just writing style that has been affected by gadgets and Web sites. I’d also say that good penmanship has greatly diminished as a result of computers. Personally, my handwriting is pretty awful. I tell myself that it’s because I spend far more time typing that I do actually picking up a pen. Although, I do seem to recall being scolded in third grade for sloppy handwriting… sorry, Sister Robertine!

What can be done to correct these horrendous occurrences in today’s youth? The children, teens and college students of today will soon be the leaders of tomorrow. Do we really want future legislation written in 140 characters or less? Should novels start including emoticons so readers know how to react? Will people even be reading novels??

I recently got a new phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard. I’ve decided that with this phone, I will now send texts that are grammatically correct with proper punctuation. I will also use complete sentences in my emails, status messages and wall posts. I may not be able to change the world, but I can change my own habits.

Won’t you please join me and save our language? If we all do our part, maybe we can stop the madness!

Please share your thoughts about how communication has changed over time due to advances in technology. Do you feel that your personal skills have diminished? If yes, how?

[This post goes out to a wonderful blog reader, Debbie. Thanks for the great idea!]



  1. I’m totally with you on this! People need to be aware of what they can get away with pertaining to certain outlets. I honestly don’t care what form my texts, Twitter feed, Facebook feed, etc come in, but in terms of blogs, comments on blogs, papers, or anything professional, people need to get a clue.

    I’m not sure if I’d say that texts/Twitter/Facebook are destroying our language, that may be giving them too much credit, but they certainly don’t help it either.

  2. No one could say it better than you, Mr. Fox. Your support of my writing during English 9 Honors class meant more to me than I can ever fully express. Thank you so very much for commenting on my post, for your words of wisdom and for being one of those dedicated educators of which you spoke.

  3. I could not agree more.

    As for novels, it remains to be seen how the technology of the iPad and Kindle will affect that. Certainly, it will be easier to access literary works, but will they have to become graphic novels to entice them to read?

    As to handwriting, I must refrain from comment having been told to start typing in eighth grade as my handwriting was and still is decrepit.

    Sadly though, the likely hood of students being fully instructed in proper grammar, semantics, and discourse will become ever slimmer as greater emphasis is placed on high stakes testing where multiple choice answers tend to rule. Writing is not prized nor emphasized; rather a mere regurgitation of facts is valued.

    However, it is bloggers such as you and many still dedicated teachers who will stand as guardians of intelligent, well-formed written expression.

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