Texting and the Decline of Language (Or Is It?)

John McWhorter gives an interesting and engaging Ted Talk about texting and how many bemoan the way in which texting is dumbing us down. Well, not me. I don’t text.

Although, now that I am following those butterflies (my super cute phrase for dating), I have started texting. However, I am a one-fingered texter due to the fact that finances only permit me to have a cheap, disposable phone. And because I still can’t bring myself to embrace the texting culture and its language, I spell every last word out and use correct punctuation.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine how long that takes. And if you can’t? Well, let’s just say I could crank out a well-crafted essay in the time it would take me to text, “Good morning! How was your night? I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and can’t wait to see you again.” To be honest, I would like to loosen up in regards to texting, because it would be great to communicate at a rate other than a snail’s pace. 


True story…

Anyhow, John McWhorter makes some excellent points in regards to texting not being the downfall of Western Society.

  1. Texting is meant to communicate how we talk, not how we write. In reality, “we don’t always (even usually) speak in complete, prescriptively grammatical sentences” (Curzan 458). Texting is an informal method of communication used to convey relaxed or casual speech.
  2. Criticism and disdain for the incompetence of youth and their use of language can be traced back thousands of years. We’re not the first.
  3. It’s actually beneficial to be able to use text language as it shows adaptability and versatility.

No, we’re not the first to believe language is being brutally murdered by incompetent youth.  The fact is, language is not being butchered, it is simply changing. The reason I believe this is because time is not stagnant. It is fluid and so is language. Language has to change because times change. And the youth are not incompetent. They’re creating something new, something that works for the times we live in now, not twenty years ago.

With that in mind, processes which shorten words (clipping, alphabetism, acronymy, and backformation) thus allowing for more efficient communication will continue to be utilized.

In contemplation, ofc @TEOTD yolo. It’s all about perspective. We look at life through our own individual lenses but sometimes forget every so often we need to change them.

Adams, Michael, and Anne Curzan. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction. Pearson, 2012.

Categories: Lotus

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