Txt spk: not so gr8

Matthew Colwell

You learn to write when you’re in kindergarten. You drew the shape of each letter over and over again until you wanted to cry. Then you learned about words and sentence structure; it was this wonderful experience of language where you could successfully communicate with others. But then you got a cell phone and a Facebook page, and you’ve sounded like a handicapped gerbil ever since.

Our lives are run by this constant connection with others. We consistently articulate to each other how we feel. Every single status update and tweet shows something about your character to those you surround yourself with. Within all this enters a new form of language: txt spk. Everything has become shorthand or has an emoticon attached. Every sarcastic quip has to be followed with “lol” and every apathetic viewpoint is followed with “meh.” This constant reassurance of the motive behind a statement is because language has been stripped of its natural ability to convey inflection. The life has been removed, but so has the formality.

Due to this constant shorthand, somehow we’ve forgotten our own rules. This trickles into our professional world. As college students, we have to sell ourselves to future employers, and that means the way we articulate ourselves is more important than ever. But, in fact, it is the complete opposite to most. Not only have we become major comma splice offenders, but also it seems we forget the correct form of they’re/their/there and you’re/your as if we never learned it; and that’s just the beginning. Then you are scorned and labeled a grammar Nazi if you do correct someone on misuse.

This isn’t about the complete disgrace it is to formal language; it’s about tact, poise and professionalism. This is backed by the “looks like a duck, acts like a duck, quacks like a duck — must be a duck” concept. If your language makes you sound like the lunch I just put down the sewer system, you both belong in the same place. When you e-mail fellow professionals or a professor and use shorthand, there is an immediate character judgment based on your language choices. It can be the first place that someone takes note of the type of person you are. Do you really want that person to be “ya dude, txt me l8r, your cool”? Press that shift key, stop using numbers and articulate yourself in fully structured sentences. It will be nothing less than worth your future career.

Matthew Colwell is a junior integrated language arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him [email protected].