Sunday, April 17, 2011

twitr, txt'g + the Demise of English

Regular readers of this space will know that I am obsessed with the English language.  I don't know why.  I didn't ask to be, I just am.  As a kid I was always the speller in the class, and I've always enjoyed the many nuances of The Mother Tongue, as epitomized in my current fave book by Bill Bryson.  But when I ran into a friend the other day who doesn't text for no other reason than he hates the way it bastardizes the English language, yours truly felt like a piker - a Johnny-come-lately to the demise of English.  (I'm not a texter either - or should I say, yet - principally because of my big thumbs and those miniscule keys on my Blackberry.)  Spelling mistales have always bothered me - I guess I just don't understand the difficulty people have with spalling because it's always been so easy for me.  But to tell you the truth I never considered English to be threatened by anything other than uncorrected spelling and grammar, Eubonics, rap music and the proliferation of Chinese (the language).  Yet now that it has been pointed out to me that the bigger threat may actually be electronic, I just don't know what I'll do.  Lol, IMHO and several other instant messaging terms even made it into the Oxford dictionary this year which, incidentally, isn't being published in non-electronic form any more.  English presently is the universal language of business around the world, not to mention around our house.  Growing up I remember phonetics-based Esperanto being hailed as a replacement for all world languages, something that would allow earthlings of every stripe to communicate without the need for interpreters.  But where it failed, will billions of text messages and tweets per day triumph in permanently altering the mother tongue?