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Text Speak, Slang and Other Forms of Language Abuse

Aug 22, 2008
The youth of today have been changing out language for as long as I can remember. When I was one of the youth of today there weren't mobile phones, instant messenger services and I'm sure we didn't swear at adults either. With this said, youngsters have always found it necessary to change, abbreviate and generally bastardize the English language at their own discretion.

In recent years, words such as 'hoody', 'bling bling' and 'chav' have all been in such regular use that they has been included in the English dictionary. This sacred language is anything but when in the hands of the nation's teenagers, who are becoming both more destructive and creative with the words they use.

New words are a welcome inclusion into language as they ensure the way people talk continues to evolve and remain fresh. William Shakespeare invented words like 'lonely', 'torture' and 'bedroom', Charles Dickens penned the term 'boredom', and the British youth coined the phrase 'you get me?'. Is there really a difference between them?

The main difference between the language that the youth of our country have adopted and the invention of words by two great authors is not just a cultural one. Shakespeare created 1700 new words by merging words, changing verbs to adjectives and adding prefixes and suffixes. His creativity enriched the English language with an influence that will go on forever.

When you hear a child of no older than ten or eleven say something along the lines of 'Swear down bruv, i taxed it', you wonder where it all went wrong. With exam results currently at their highest ever, and English Language still one of the compulsory subjects, it makes you think whether these kids have a second language for the street.

With rap music becoming more influential on the way the British kids dress, act and speak, it's understandable that various phrases from this culture will seep into the English language. As England becomes infected with the global epidemic of 'Americanisation' we must keep our language strong and for starters continue to use an 's' where the yanks would use a 'z'. It's not 'Americanization', and I don't care if the automatic spell-checker highlights it.

Despite the obvious influence of the Americans on our country, we do attempt to change things ourselves. Abbreviations are prevalent all over the world, and have become even more common with the popularity of text messaging and online chatting. Sometimes the abbreviation is so abstract that it would take the Enigma code-breakers to decipher some of the sentences.

Shortening words to fit in to a specified space is understandable, although I still find this mildly irritating. There is a problem that is creeping into society that we rarely speak of, the laughing acronym. E-mails, text messages and instant messaging services are full of the laughing acronym that, in my experience, will be used to feign actual laughter.

Tell a joke to someone via a text message and they may respond with a three-letter response - LOL. This acronym tells you that the recipient 'laughed out loud' to you joke or message. I can put up with this as it is a simple phrase that says what it means. However, even this phrase has been abused an manipulated to the extreme with all sorts of variations.

LMAO and ROFL are in common usage now, where the sender wants you to know that they found it so funny that they either laughed their backside off or rolled on the floor laughing. I, for one, have never rolled on the floor laughing and I find it hard to believe that anyone else has either, especially at a simple comment that wasn't even a joke.

I'm not being funny but... is another phrase that irritates and infuriates me beyond belief. When someone starts a sentence with these five words, prepare for the least funny thing you will ever hear. It's clear from what they say that they aren't being funny so there is no need to warn the listener in such a way.

An equally strange phrase to use is when at the end of a sentence, possibly during a pretty straightforward story, the speaker questions the listener with 'do you know what i mean?' or 'you get me?' (if you want to sound more 'street'). They are not explaining the space time continuum or how to split an atom, but think you may not have understood their story about the long queue in the supermarket. I honestly get it but I don't look interested for a reason.

Language can be a beautiful thing, used in the correct way and with enough care and consideration. Text speak is gradually reducing the nation's ability to produce sentences that are grammatically correct - so we must take our language back. Refuse to abbreviate and construct proper sentences with real words and phrases to help make a difference.

Slang makes the language we use every day richer and can also be used in to lighten the mood and tone of a conversation with a simple word. Speaking and writing are two separate forms of communication and should be treated as such, with the written word taking more priority for correctness and legibility. Be adventurous with your language and enjoy the spoken and written word, but ensure you make sense and never ROFL at a joke, ever.
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