Txt spk is not the downfall of the English language

Adrian Ng

As a quick note, I never use “txt spk” in either text messaging or Internet communications. I am also the guy that is scorned and labeled as a grammar Nazi. That being said, I respectfully disagree with Matthew Colwell’s opinions regarding txt spk.

I think that in order to fully discuss this issue, we have to establish why we use txt spk on Facebook and in text messages. Society today is fast, portable and, most importantly, convenient. The Internet gives us virtually instant access to all the information we could ever want to know. The Internet also allows for virtually instant communication with a person anywhere in the world. Cell phones, as well as 3G Internet, have made communication portable, making the on-the-go life that much easier. This is why we developed txt spk. It’s fast and, in general, communicates the desired message. Overall, it fits our modern day society.

With this in mind, the columnist’s first point becomes moot. He criticizes the use of shorthand, emoticons and Internet speak by saying that it strips the English language of its natural ability to convey inflection and eliminates formality. My response is to simply say that it is irrelevant whether or not txt spk conveys inflection or expresses formality. The point of the language is neither and therefore should not be expected to live up to those standards. Keep in mind that txt spk is not designed to be the new language for the great American novelist, but rather for people who just want to communicate a message in the fastest way possible.

The columnist states that the lovingly coined txt spk language is resulting in the destruction of the English language as we know it; however, I disagree with this sentiment. The notion that txt spk has resulted in increased grammatical errors is in all likelihood wrong. Although I grew up in the era of the Internet, my command of English spelling and grammar is perfectly fine. I also know many “grown-ups” who grew up without cell phones and Facebook, and they are not exactly the William Shakespeares of our time. The correlation between the advent of the Internet era and a decrease in grammatical sense is, at best, nonexistent. Some people just develop a weak grasp on grammar, regardless of the presence of the Internet.

The main point that the columnist is trying to make is that txt spk simply destroys any semblance of professionalism in a person. While I do agree that txt spk lacks tact, poise and professionalism, I believe that the problem lies further than simply the language itself. A person who is unable to determine whether or not txt spk is appropriate at a professional level is in all likelihood lacking in the professionalism department. I do not believe that people have suddenly begun suffering increased professionalism problems due to the Internet and cell phones. This is just another classic example of correlation without causation. A person that uses txt spk in a professional environment is indeed being unprofessional, but being unprofessional is not due to txt spk.

I recognize all of the concerns voiced by the columnist, and I do believe that they are all relevant. However, I believe that the real culprit in this situation is not txt spk, but rather people themselves. I believe the two lessons to be taken from all of this is to be sure to develop proper writing skills and to be sure to learn to be professional. Using txt spk is perfectly fine in my eyes, as long as you can recognize when it is appropriate.

Adrian Ng is a junior broadcast journalism major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]