|Mine GO BOOM
Joined: Aug 01 2002
Location: Las Vegas
|Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 11:32 am Post subject: "Yo, can u plz help me write English?"
|Lately, I've gotten a few emails from people that are hard to understand. I get a few questions in SS's ?messages I have little idea what they are saying. Today, reading the USAToday newspaper I get free from PSU, I come across a good articale called "Yo, can u plz help me write English?" by Steve Friess. I recommend those of you who think typing 'l33t' is so cool to give it a read through.
|Steve Friess of the USAToday wrote: |
|'Yo, can u plz help me write English?'
By Steve Friess, special for USA TODAY
Carl Sharp knew there was a problem when he spotted his 15-year-old son's summer job application: "i want 2 b a counselor because i love 2 work with kids."
That night, the father in Phoenix removed the AOL Instant Messenger program from the family computer and informed both his children they were no longer to chat with friends online.
"That shorthand comes from talking on the Internet, and it's unacceptable," Sharp says. "I never thought I'd be encouraging my kids to talk on the telephone, but I realized that the constant chatting on the Internet was destroying their ability to write properly."
Adults should set a good example
Parents such as Sharp ? and many educators ? are becoming increasingly alarmed by the effect of Internet communication on the writing skills of U.S. teens, who spend an average of 12 hours a week online, according to an America Online survey. Much of that time is spent exchanging "instant messages" with software offered by AOL, Yahoo and MSN. This informal instant communication lends itself to linguistic shortcuts, shoddy grammar and inappropriate or absent punctuation.
Though the shortcuts may have a place in instant messaging, they become troubling when they creep into schoolwork and other formal writing, experts say. The lingo now infiltrates every part of youth culture; teen pop star Avril Lavigne spells the title of one of her biggest hits "Sk8r boi."
English instructor Cindy Glover, who last year taught a section of freshman composition at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, says she spent a lot of time unteaching Internet-speak. "My students were trying to communicate fairly academic, scholarly thoughts, but some of them didn't seem to know it's 'y-o-u,' not 'u,' " Glover says. "I wanted to teach them to communicate persuasively, but I couldn't get past the really horrific spelling or grammar."
Writer David Samson of Beverly Hills, Calif., notices the same problem. Teenage fans of his humor books e-mail him and show little regard for formality. He cites one note: "yo mr dave can u plz write me a funny speech about any animal cause i need it for school."
"They seem to avoid every rule I was ever taught about how to get a response from anybody, especially an adult," says Samson, 51, author of a dozen books including Men Who Hate Themselves and the Women Who Agree With Them.
"E-mail has brought an undue familiarity. People use words like 'yo' and 'hey dude' that are perfectly appropriate for peers but not for professional communications."
But many scholars say the problem isn't that kids are developing an alternate form of the language; it's that some don't keep in mind when it's inappropriate.
"It's not that there's never a place for this sort of thing, but it's the difference between how you would dress to go out on Saturday night versus how you dress when you do yardwork," says Leila Christenberry, former president of the National Council of Teachers of English and an English education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. "Quick bursts of very insider phrases and words do fit the electronic format in some ways."
Online lingo may even have roots in other languages, says communications professor Robert Schrag of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The absence of vowels, for example, is similar to how Hebrew is usually written, he says. And the use of "emoticons" ? punctuation sequences such as :-) that create smiley faces and the like to convey emotion ? are a form of the pictographic characters used in Asian languages.
But Bill Doak of Las Vegas sees little value in it. He has barred his daughter, Ashley, 12, from online chatting. She grudgingly concedes that her father has a point.
"It might hurt me because I might be thinking the same way in school as I would online," she says. "If I'm thinking that way in school, I'm going to misspell words."
Many linguistic experts say Doak's and Sharp's approach is extreme. Internet communication will become only more prevalent in the future, and many see the surge in written communication among youth as a positive development after years in which letter-writing seemed a dying form.
"We have always implicitly taught our children different language structures and how they function in different arenas," Schrag says. "We use (a different) language structure watching a basketball game than in our place of worship. Most children will understand the difference."
Samson says he tries to model proper language usage for his nephews and godchildren when he chats with them online and gently corrects them when necessary. "Sometimes I'll actually copy an instant-message conversation into a separate file and I'll underline misspelled words or incorrect grammar and send an e-mail a day later listing corrections," Samson says. "Every time, without fail, I've gotten back a 'thank you' and I've found those words spelled correctly in future discussions."
But Margie Johnson of St. Charles, Ill., doesn't feel so appreciated by her grandchildren.
"I take pains when I help them with their homework to say, 'This may be what you say online, but it's not what your teacher wants to see,' " Johnson says. "They groan and say, 'OK, Grandma,' but they really don't want to hear it."