Thursday, October 26, 2006

Commentary: Text Messaging Will Destroy Language: LOL

Sigh, what fools these mortals be, with my sincere apology to the Bard. I recently read a discussion question posed on the Living Classroom Symposium Forum which included '...Well, at one of these events, one the engineers was asked to present how he had been using the online environment in his teaching. During his presentation, he showed a few example of postings on the discussion board. It so happens that in some of them, the students had used 'txt'. A communications lecturer in the audience who had been asked to attend by her manager got very upset and to her this was totally unacceptable.' The question on the forum was '...Businesses have adopted strategies such as inforcing spellchecks on all emails that leave thier company so as to maintain a professional standard. Should we in education do the same?' (Question from Hasmeeta Shukla, Auckland, New Zealand)

Now, I happen to be a fervent proponent of proper language. I also text message daily, and use the shorthand with abandon. So I responded to the question this way:

"I absolutely disagree with your Communications lecturer. Discussion boards are a form of communication, and putting up barriers to that communication is counter-productive. Students today communicate in very different formats: text messaging, emoticons, SMS text messaging shorthand ('r u ready?') etc. Some phrases, such as SWAK (sealed with a kiss) have been used for decades, and have not caused irreparable harm. Language is fluid and adaptive to cultural influence. Chill...if the language hasn't been broken yet, it's likely to survive. This is no different an argument than the fear that calculators would cause students to lose the ability to add or subtract.

Still not convinced? Then do tell why we no longer speak as did Petruccio and Kate in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew:

Petruccio: Come, come, you wasp, i’faith you are too angry.
Katherine: If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
Petruccio: My remedy is then to pluck it out.
Katherine: Ay, if the fool could find where it lies.
Petruccio: Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail.
Katherine: In his tongue.
Petruccio: Whose tongue?
Katherine: Yours, if you talk of tales, and so farewell.
Petruccio: What, with my tongue in your tail?
So, should we ban the teaching of Shakespearean Literature? Methinks not.

FYI (for your information): I would respectfully suggest that the Communications lecturer realize that we have btdt (been there, done that) and pay attention to the FAQ's (frequently asked questions) that linguists have grappled with for centuries, and frankly.the lecturer should do so asap (as soon as possible) cuz (because) it's eod (end of discussion) LOL (laughing out loud). Oh, and TGIF (thank goodness it's Friday), or it will be, soon."

So, what do you think? Should educators police discussion boards?
You can follow the discussion on this topic on the Living Classroom site, or post your comment on this blog. Just do it asap.

Symposium 2 Forum address: ( )