The Slaying Of Grammar By The Digital Age: A Delightful Rant

Phone Texting Grammar
I’m sure sociolinguists and syntacticians never predicted the desecrating effect modern technology would have on basic sentence structure. For at the moment, we are in the throes of a nationwide pandemic rife with blithering idiocy. While technology certainly bolsters our ability to socially interact with one another, I feel as though it has pilfered the romance, spontaneity and intelligence from nearly all of our human exchanges and experiences. Aside from hackneyed marketing speak and musty slang brought on by commercialism and a reality-based entertainment industry, the Internet and all of its goading soldiers, including smartphones and tablets, are the primary steering wheels of this stupidity.

Today more than ever, our youth walk around like schizophrenic parrots spouting modern colloquialisms in order to maintain even a tepid standing within a heavily branded social atmosphere. Parents are force-feeding these ambling drones with smartphones, so that nearly every interaction is completed via text message, and devoid of human sound. In addition, tweens are becoming their own authors of various mind-numbing tweets, Facebook statuses and text messages without the supervision of a grammatical expert, resulting in dense exchanges such as this:

wutz goin on man want 2 get sum grub

yo im game lets hit up BK

aight u brung yer gurl 2 ill brung mine we can parrtyyyyy

werd

The above text was manufactured by yours truly, and it nearly caused me to puke violently while typing it. As you can see, this deplorable excuse for grammar is devoid of any punctuation or capitalization, and is rife with various spelling errors. In addition, the very basic elements of sentence structure have been obliterated—sent out to space somewhere alongside the Google satellites. Kids today wouldn’t know a subject, predicate, clause or compound if it did back flips in front of them on a trampoline. One can hear the sizzling of brain cells being pan fried while reading the above text exchange aloud, if one dares to do so. I understand this is the emerging literary culture, but it is a step in a very dangerous direction—one that will inevitably lead to the permanent marring of the English language and the collective brain disintegrating of this country. Here is an example of an amended version of the despicable exchange above:

Hey Noah, would you like to eat lunch with me?

Sure, Mike. Let’s go to Hooters. They have fantastic house salads.

That’s a great idea! Bring your wife and I’ll take my girlfriend along for the ultimate party.

Splendid.

As exhibited above, the revised text includes punctuation marks. For those not familiar with punctuation marks, they help readers determine pauses, voice intonation and possession, which are necessary components of any ingenuous idiolect. In addition, notice how the words are spelled correctly. Between proper punctuation and correct spelling, we are able to attain the proper voice of each communicator and read the text faster, rather than having to decode dim-witted hieroglyphics typed by Dodo birds. There is a classic, romantic quality to the amended text. It contains something called emotion, which is lacking quite Emoticons-DERRsubstantially in the first texting exchange.

Furthermore, the first texting catastrophe alludes to the notion that we are retrogressing to a grunt-and-sign-driven linguistic syntax, characteristic of the earliest homo erectus exchanges. Millions of years ago in the Neanderthal era, the two forms of employed communication were sounds and signs. Low and behold, the plot thickens. The digital age delights in the fancies of brain cell replacements referred to as “emoticons” or “smilies” in order to automatically replace an adjective or adverb with a pixilated face contorted into a corresponding “emotion.” Couple smilies with modern, grammatically incorrect text, and we are ultimately communicating like digital cavemen. Here’s what I predict in the future:

wtzgood eet foo Burger King 2 clk don b latte

eeeeeeeeeeeeee

kjsdfkjsdfuhsfkjngd

Toss in some emoticons and that’s the inevitable future, folks. Suggestive grunts, clicks and miscellaneous brand names chucked into a cauldron of stupid and cranked up to a rolling boil. The whimsy of structured sentences will be bulldozed to the earth and replaced by plywood development neighborhoods of illegitimate grammar. All the while, the literary greats such as Poe, Hunter S. Thompson, Emily Dickenson and Salinger will continue to do cartwheels in their graves as they witness the demise of grammatically sound human communication. Hunter, I know you had your ashes shot out of a giant peyote button, so your spirit will be the one doing the cartwheels. Remember the tangible and quixotic nature of a hand-written letter? The mellifluous voice of a lover on a landline? The days before the Internet and cell phones came along and injected passive aggressive, impersonal and grammatically-challenged exchanges into the social landscape?

And I haven’t even touched on acronyms. OMG, TTYL, BRB, LMAO! Will someone please press the shiny red Looney Tunes button and drop an anvil on these unpardonably lame fixtures within the digital language sector? Not only are these acronyms banal and uninspiring, but they make the perpetrator look excessively stupid. Do you genuinely laugh out loud every single time you type the letters “LOL?” Acronyms are 3rd cousins of marketing mumbo jumbo, which is one of the lowest forms of communication culminated by a lack of originality and pioneered by PR representatives who are spellbound by reality television. Marketing mumbo jumbo goes something like this:

Hey sport, let’s touch base on Monday 9EST for the downlow on the latest XYZ 9000 that’s set to spank the market. Shoot me an email and we’ll touch base after you fire off a response and then we can circle back and touch base later after you fire back to see where we’re at after we touch base for the skinny on this shizzle, brosky. L8r!

Barf. Now let’s combine all forms of modern digital grammar into one dismal garbage bag of text:

whutz good, broseph saw ur post an wuz all LULZ it was funny lol i went w00t yo letz tuch base ths wknd for some mrktng ideas on teh new xyz 900 its mad wckd cool man aight holla atcha l8r scarlet brohanson peace  lol  !

Oxford-WTFAs I paddle myself back to life from penning that trash, I am reminded of a recent development within the literary world that sent me into a catatonic state earlier in the week. Apparently, the Oxford English Dictionary has accepted attempts at words such as “sexting,” “retweet” and “woot” (spelled sans zeroes). This is not only an outrage—it is a wrought iron gauntlet to the face of grammatical integrity. Rather than promoting intelligence, Oxford is stooping to the basest level of human communication by inducting these wretched excuses for words into its formerly prestigious library. Are you telling me that a stalwart word such as Sforzato, which means the playing of a tone with sudden force, will share the page with “Sexting,” which means to have text message sex with a village bicycle? Egad! I no longer have any faith in the Oxford English Dictionary, and will rely on Mr. Webster from now on, that is until Webby sells out as well.

Besides, what could possibly be romantic and alluring about misspelled words geared to make your pants tighter? Pick up the phone and engage in a vocal rendezvous. Or, procure a piece of paper and a writing utensil, and pen an animated account of your proposed evening. Deliver it surreptitiously to your willing lover and it will serve as a tangible tease that should last them all day until you finally meet up later in the evening to take things down to Love Town. Texting vacuums the romance directly out of a love exchange, and it’s an inevitable relationship ender for me.

So what can be done? Grammatical integrity is crumbling around us all like the walls of ancient Rome. I can suggest a starting point. Begin typing your damn text messages, emails, status updates, comments, and forum posts with proper grammar. If proper grammar is an extraterrestrial subject to you, pick up a sentence structure book and read it. Experiment using words you would not normally use on a daily basis. Read the dictionary or make it a point to learn one new word per day. Intelligence is far more attractive than stupidity.

Letter-WritingIn closing, I fear for the upcoming generations of online and wireless communicators. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a house where grammar was beaten into me with a wooden spoon, in the pre-Internet era. My mother wrote for a newspaper and helped instill every facet of grammatical skill within my writing from an early age. It led to various prestigious achievements, such as the “Journal Junkie” award in 4th grade for countless Ren and Stimpy episodes. But most importantly, grammatical skill helped me solidify a job 4 1/2 years ago within the tech industry, and that’s why I fear for you kids. If you lose your grasp on grammar and the quest to further your intelligence, you will remain treading water in a sea of oblivion for the rest of your lives.

So please heed my advice, and take advantage of the punctuation marks on your slide-out QWERTYs. Retire the happy faces and revitalize the comma. Dust off Nine Stories and start reading.

You are the future, young Padawans—don’t fill it with stupidity.


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Mike Perlman

Mike Perlman grew up in Nintendo Land and developed a relationship with all things electronic and nerdy early on in his childhood career. Today,...Mike Perlman grew up in Nintendo Land and developed a relationship with all things electronic and nerdy early on in his childhood career. Today,...