i’ll rite btr l8r
by Mad Dog
you’ve ever sent a text
message, especially from a plain old phone that doesn’t have a QWERTY
keyboard, you’ll understand how precious those saved keystrokes can
||The president of France,
Nicolas Sarkozy, is worried about the French language. Right, like he
doesn’t have enough to worry about what with the economy, rising pâté
and gas prices, and getting more notoriety for his love life than his
policies. On the plus side, Audrey Tatou is replacing Nicole Kidman as
the face of Chanel No. 5, so maybe things are starting to look up for
His problem? “Look at what
text-messaging is doing to the French language,” Sarkozy said in an
SMS message to everyone in the country. “If we let things go, in a few
years we will have trouble understanding each other.” JK. I mean, just
kidding. About the SMS part, anyway. He actually did say this, only it
was out loud to a reporter since he didn’t want to wait while his
assistant typed the message into the phone with his or her thumbs, not
to mention he didn’t know the proper text message way to sign off,
which in French is a2m1 (à demain). Think: CU2moro.
If that last word doesn’t make
sense to you then you’re probably older than Hannah Montana. And
wondering who the heck she is. It also means you don’t have to waste
any time wondering why every girl between the ages of seven and fourteen
throws a fit until Mom and Dad shell out a week’s salary for concert
tickets, then throws another fit until they buy every bit of concert
merchandise Disney could dream up. And trust me, they can dream. If
that’s the case, go back to the end of the preceding paragraph and
read the last word out loud. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project
(motto: “we lol @ r name 2”) found that 64 percent of American teens
have used chat and text shortcuts or emoticons in their school
That’s SMS — or text message — talk, also known as txtspk,
and in this case it saves seven thumbstrokes. If you’ve ever sent a
text message, especially from a plain old phone that doesn’t have a
QWERTY keyboard, you’ll understand how precious those saved keystrokes
can be. Face it, if we were meant to type with our thumbs we would have
evolved with ten of them. Or at least two on each hand.
To save time, kids around the globe
have developed their own text abbreviations, and France is no exception.
They use JTM for je t’aime, cb1 for c'est bien, and BCP
for beaucoup. This is especially galling to Académie française,
the French group that tries hard to retain the purity of the language.
It’s bad enough they have to guard against English words creeping in,
like le pique-nique, le week-end, and Freedom Fries, now
the French themselves are making up words. Is it any wonder Sarkozy’s
beret is in a knot?
It’s not as if the French don’t
already use a lot of abbreviations. There’s RSVP, which means “the
caterer wants to know how many mini egg rolls to pull out of the
freezer,” A+, which has been a shorthand way to close a letter for
years (à bientôt), and ITABIYPOAYHTSM (Is that a baguette in
your pocket or are you happy to see me?). Is Koi29 — Quoi de neuf?,
or What's new? — so much worse?
this creeping txtspk signal the end of the English language as we know
it? Probably not, imo.
The French aren’t the only ones worried about creeping
textisms. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (motto:
“we lol @ r name 2”) found that 64 percent of American teens have
used chat and text shortcuts or emoticons in their school assignments.
Can you imagine that? :)
They’re either doing this out of
habit or because the lines between chatting with their friends about
who’s really hot and writing an essay about the relevance of the
Monroe Doctrine in the modern world are hopelessly blurred. They’re
certainly not doing it to save keystrokes. The same study found that
two-thirds of teens don’t use a computer when they do their school
writing, they do it longhand. Yes, with paper and pen. The researchers
think this is because most of the assignments are short, but it’s more
likely so their computer can be free to simultaneously IM their friends,
update their MySpace page, watch a YouTube video of a gerbil
skateboarding while singing “Who Let The Dogs Out” and tossing
M&Ms in the air and catching them in its mouth, and Google an
assignment just like theirs so they can role play being Jayson Blair.
Does this creeping txtspk signal the
end of the English language as we know it? Probably not, imo. I mean, in
my opinion. After all, language changes. Richard Sterling, the chairman
of the National Commission on Writing at the College Board (motto:
“Eschew obfuscation, beginning with our name”) thinks we might be
seeing the dawning of some grammar rule changes. You know, like
sentences not having to start with a capital letter, using numbers 4
words, and having Hooked on Phonics replace Strunk and White.
And why shouldn’t language change?
High school students have to read Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare
without understanding most of it unless they read the footnotes, ask the
teacher to interpret, or rent the movie. Face it, we don’t speak the
same English Chaucer did, nor will future generations speak the same
txtspk — I mean, English — we do. r u redi 4 it? b4n*
©2008 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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