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Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Speak: It's JUST for Texting!

So how many Rouge Wavers text their family and friends? I do it a lot now. Texting has become part of my life. I was never one of those self-described Luddites. I can upload, download and update many things. Nevertheless, texting as far as I was concerned initially was a sort of last ditch thing for confirmation, etc., but now I text friends and colleagues about any number of things. When I first started texting I would text something like this: Hey, my flight is late. See you at the gate. I'm wearing a red coat which took me 3 minutes to text and gets a reply like: C U thr. So now I am down with the texting lingo: U R cmg @ 8? It was a brief learning curve but I can now text with the best of 'em.

As a sidenote, I'm fairly certain my Blackberry's "smart type" has some kind of content editor because no, I am not texting the work "duck" or "ducking" - ever.

Texting and IMing using a truncated new speak is not new. We're all familiar with brb, lol, omg, cya, kk and my funny newest - zomg! But one pitfall of new speak, whether it's in texting, IM or message boards is that we become lazy. It's fine to say "your gng 2 B lte!" - the operative word there being "your" instead of "you're". I have noticed that spelling in scripts I read has gotten worse and worse. And this is the truly horrible part - I have to catch myself more and more too.

Not that you're going to catch me writing: 2 B or nt 2 B anytime soon in a script or anywhere else, but it is a challenge when your brain shifts back and forth from proper spelling to new speak. Proper spelling and grammar is slowly eroding. On the one hand, that is the way of things. We no longer speak the way Shakespeare wrote - iffin that was the way Joe Average spoke at that time, or anywhere close. We no longer speak the way we did in the 1950s for that matter: Say, you are looking very nice today, Jody! Today that would be: Girl, you're hot!

Language is an organic thing and we have plenty of evidence to prove that. But make sure that you do check yourself when working on scripts or anything else that will be publicly consumed. Watch your "your" versus "you're," "to" versus "too" and duck versus...well - you get my point.

The hilarious thing is that your script will be read by people who are probably texting while reading it: Ths scrpt kicks ass! brb! Mtng! - but they'll still slam you if your script has spelling errors or language usage problems. Because the way we speak in some mediums is not the way we speak in others. Scripts are still expected to be written properly. I am not referring to the fact that you may have a character who uses slang, but particularly in your action lines - get it right.

So even if you are a texting aficionado, but sure to flip that switch when you write. It matters. No j/k.

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Trevor said...

lol - u r crzy j!

I actually have a problem where I have to text in full sentences and use correct spelling. It took forever to do it before so I just wouldn't text. But now with the nice iPhone keypad and my new 2,500 free texts per month I'm writing essays all day.

I don't know whether new speak is killing our ability to spell. Kids still go to school and I imagine their English teachers let them know what is correct and what isn't. And if you can't figure that out by the time you want to be a WRITER then you've picked the wrong profession.

Caitlin said...

This post was so interesting to me, because, like Trevor, I use full sentences and correct spelling in my text messages, as well as my emails and instant messages. Until I read your post, I'd completely forgotten that most people don't do that! I type and text so fast that I have never found it to be a hindrance. And I've always compulsively edited myself as I go along. It's funny to imagine what it would be like to use Internet shorthand, since I couldn't do it if I wanted to. Wow, it's suddenly dawning on me just how compulsive I really am! Hmm...

Seth Fortin said...

Yeah, I'm with Trevor. I usually text in full sentences, unless it's an emergency or I've only got one hand.

rachel said...

omg! jg ftw!

seriously - good point, well made. texting, blogging, even emailling to some extent has made us lazy. and the auto dictionary thingo is the opposite of helpful. unless of course 'u r l8 4 duck!'

Emily Blake said...

I often get essays turned in riddled with text speak. And A World Fit For Kids, which is an organization designed to keep kids off the street and doing positive activities, keeps putting up posters that say things like "Do u need help? Tutoring available 4 u!"

We should probably accept that ten years from now no words will contain more than five letters. It's useless to fight it.

michael said...

it's so much easier just to kinda go with the flow and let the inevitability of it wash over you. I mean, why have words like good and bad when you can just get rid of bad and replace it with "ungood"?