Friday, February 09, 2007

A trend that does not surprise me and a related rant

In an AP story by Jim Ellis posted Wednesday on Yahoo! News we learn that teachers are beginning to see a whole new type of spelling error: The computer/IM/text message abbreviation. The article reports that an increasing number of Orlando, Florida middle school teacher Julia Austin's students are turning in papers using 'words' like "b4," "ur," "2" and "wata" -- words, the article suggests, which "may confuse adults but are part of the teens' everyday lives."

According to Ellis' article, one of Ms. Austin's students, 14 year old Brandi Concepcion, acknowledged that "wit, da and dat — used in place of with, the and that — sometimes creep into her homework." She says she uses these shortcuts in her rough draft -- but tries to "catch" the errors before they creep into her final paper. My Long Suffering Spouse is a teacher; she has had experiences similar to those of Ms. Austin. So when the AP says there's a trend, in this instance, at least, I am inclined to agree.

Other teachers are not so quick to condemn IM-speak: Ellis' article cites David Warlick, 54, of Raleigh, N.C., as suggesting that this trend should instead be celebrated. Warlick has written three books on technology in the classroom -- presumably without using "wit, da and dat" -- but says teachers should credit their students with inventing "a new language ideal for communicating in a high-tech world."

I respectfully dissent.

I use IM's. These provide a very handy way to stay in touch with kids in college. I read the kids' away messages and learn a lot about how they're doing. Of course, the away messages are usually for their peers, not for me -- but too bad for them. And when the kids are on line, I will "talk" to them using IM's. My kids laugh at me because I use complete sentences in IM conversations. But I'm not trying to be funny (necessarily) when I send them IM's. I am merely trying to communicate effectively and accurately.

Anyone reading this blog will be familiar with IM-speak. Many of you sometimes or even regularly use abbreviations or emoticons (those are the smiley faces) in your comments.

You may have noticed that I don't.

It's not that these are bad things: Emoticons are particularly useful. In conversation how words are said are often as important as what words are said. Depending on how they're said, the same words can convey devastating insult or deep affection. It's the tone of voice or the twinkle in the eye or the underlying warm chuckle that helps us evaluate whether to respond to the speaker with an appreciative laugh... or a punch in the nose. And since we can't reproduce those things here -- and plain text can be misleading -- emoticons are used. Sometimes I write stage directions to try and better convey my meaning -- to show I'm not really being mean-spirited.

I am more troubled by the abbreviations so many of us use here in the Blogosphere. It's not that I object to your leaving comments with abbreviations. I'm very needy and will take almost any comment. And, besides, I know what you mean when you leave an abbreviation. Or I think I do. I just don't think that these abbreviations are really very accurate.

It's late Friday now. But on Monday, when you go to work, take the Curmudgeon challenge: Let's find out together how accurate these abbreviations are. When you do your normal blogging routine and you are inclined to leave a comment "LOL," be sure to really laugh out loud. Laugh so the folks can hear you in the adjacent cubicles.

(Heads will being to peer tentatively over the tops of your neighbors' work spaces as you do this. But do not let that stop you. Continue on.)

Now you've found a really funny post. I wish you'd find it here -- but you're probably somewhere else at this point. No matter. You would write "LMAO" in response in the ordinary course. Do so now -- and also really laugh your a** off.

Well, don't physically injure yourself. You have to sit down on something after all. But give out a big, sustained belly laugh for all to hear.

(The heads that had begun to peer tentatively over the tops of your neighbors' work spaces, or around the corner of your office door, may quickly withdraw. You may hear some excited whispering in the background. But we are doing an experiment here, people. Do not be deterred by the buzzing of the Philistines. Keep going.)

Now you've found a truly funny blog. A picture, a story, something that really tickles you. What would you write in this circumstance? Of course! Go ahead and write "ROTFL."

Now do it.

Go on: Roll on the floor and laugh and laugh and laugh.

And, when you get email privileges at the home, drop me a line and let me know how you're doing.


David said...

I actually did laugh out loud when I read your suggestion for Monday. I'm in my kitchen, not a cubicle, but I'm getting a funny look from my wife.

sari said...

While I freely admit to an emoticon now and again (and mostly directed at you because, truthfully, I know you don't use them, haha) I cannot ABIDE incorrect spelling.

Not incorrect spelling because you don't know how to spell something, but words with Z or XX or some weird Q in it that isn't supposed to have it. Hot Roxx! Cool Cutz!

Some stupid change that some dumb heavy metal hair band probably tried to incorporate into a song title in the 80's. That kind of stuff, it bugs me.

Now excuse me, I need to go find something to laugh at, but not LMAO. Just laugh.


Linda said...

I'm with you on this one! I totally cannot stand all of the abbreviations and literary (?) short-cuts that people use for "computer speak". Ask my daughter and she'll tell you that I am one of the few people she knows who writes out the entirety of my text messages on my cell phone!

I have LOL'd at times in my life but I hate using the term. I would rather say that something made me laugh and, honestly, I don't think I have ever ROFLMA'd in my entire life! Of course, if that was all it took to get rid of this large behind of mine then I might try it once in awhile!

I shudder to think that someday someone is going to write an entire book using IM-speak and it will become a national bestseller with the author appearing on Oprah and every other talk show out there while he or she is lauded as the next Mark Twain or something!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The weird thing is that students use this sort of writing when composing essays etc.

Smalltown RN said...

I am so with you on this one. When I first started corresponding with my husband. He used all kinds of abbreviations. We spent our first half dozen chats having him explain to me what LOL or ROFL or things of the sort. I found it all so strange and it seems like a totally different language to me. But then when I ventured out into the instant messaging world I found out that he was not alone....the majority of people type that way. I don't know if it's because they are trying to talk to half a dozen people all at the same time like my daughter and step son do. Or if in fact they are being just lazy.

But I think I would like to take this challenge. As I have found myself using some of those abbreviations lately.

But you see in my nursing profession we use a lot of abbreviations as well. I find sometimes when I am writing a note to someone now that I want to us a nursing abbreiviation...for example the word "with" in nursing is shown with a "c" with a line at the top of the "c" sometimes I have to catch myself not to do that.

Thanks for the challenge....have a great weekend!


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well curmy first of all i never use those smiley thingys because i have no idea HOW to use them, see?

then i also do not use the lol stuff, i am always afraid i will get that wrong too, see?

sometimes being old has it benefits, or not, again, see?

smiles, bee (and i did smile)

Sarge Charlie said...

I'm with Bee, why not learn correct use of a language and **&^*&*&^%$$#

Anonymous said...

Ironically your Google ad at the top of the page is offering Britney Spears News.

As always, excellent post.

Linda said...

I noticed that I am so inept when it comes to this stuff that I left the "O" part off of ROFLMA ... duh!

Anonymous said...

I don’t use IM-speak because I am too ignorant to. (I should take a course.) However, no one was appointed or anointed to determine what is “correct” and what isn’t. IM-speak makes sense to me. After all, aren’t terms like “radio,” “TV” “radar,” “4H,” and “JFK” just abreviations that have become acceptable through usage?

Lahdeedah said...

I started using ahh ah ha ha ha to effectively communicate laughter, I stole it from a friend, but it's not really accurate either.

And I DID LOL when I read your question about how many of us do LOL.

My friend and I have had this conversation, and have an ongoing discussion about how to find a replacement for LOL. In the meantime, we both use LOL as a period. To end a thought, why I don't know. I do know, though, that now, whenever one of us actually LOL's, we say "I really did LOL" because nobody believes you are actually laughing out loud when you type that.

I mean, sometimes I find myself typing LOL for a statement that isn't even meant to be funny.

Barb said...

Ok, you got me. I'm an LOL'er and a smiley facer. Not in writing or blogging, but in comments and IMs.

The Curmudgeon said...

Edward, welcome. You're absolutely right that many common words started as acronyms. And if IM speak makes sense to you -- and to those with whom you communicate -- by all means continue to use it.

I'm not fluent in the language, but I can usually puzzle it out.

My concern is that not everyone is fluent in IM speak and can't necessarily puzzle it out; therefore, I try and use standard English. (And probably fail more often than I know.)

I'm just a Curmudgeon about these things, that's all. Right, Barb?

And, Ladeedah -- thanks for really laughing out loud!

And, finally, Bennie -- so what is the latest Britney news, anyway?

MommasWorld said...

I have seen IM speak in the office. When a co-worker uses the phrase "LOL" and they are right in front of me something in my brain does a little whiplash like sensation. I have noticed myself that I pick up accents very quickly during brief conversations and I am very aware of it. Sometimes I do not catch it before it comes out of my mouth and my brain is greatly embarrassed for me. I find the same goes for the internet. The internet in most cases is making me dumber. One of my cousins in Ireland was the first to point this fact out to me. I have "always been a very proper almost gagging us with a 'Queens English' speaking type of person and lately you sound more like a cowgirl lost in wilderness." My cousins are not sure they are speaking to me when I answer the phone. I went from Metro D.C. where I encountered accents from many countries to the country like city I live in now.

If I ever say LOL on line please give me a little laugh. If I say it in person please give me a good little slap.

I am slowly catching up :-)