by Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) Texting is the 21st Century version of passing notes. And as someone who spent his school years passing notes, I think of how much paper I could’ve saved (and privacy maintained) if we had all carried smart phones in the 90s.
But while poring over some atrocious love letters I once exchanged, I noticed that we spelled out words like “hilarious” and our promises to love each other forever (or until senior year, whichever came first). And it struck me that something’s been lost in the modern, text-speak expressions of amour. For example, LOL and ICFILWU don’t seem to carry the same weight as “you always make me laugh” or “I could fall in love with you.”
Travis Ruiz, a reporter from our Texas affiliate KVII, says students are increasingly using bad grammar on purpose. Why bother to spell something out if you can get your point across more quickly, even if that means horrifying your English teacher? The dictionary definition of expediency is something quick, practical (assuming you can decipher it), and not necessarily correct – which describes the culture of texting perfectly.
And some argue it’s nothing to be worried about: Texting, Facebooking, tweeting, and the thrashing they give spelling and clear thought are all just part of the evolution of the language.
But don’t tell that to grammarians of the old school. At Savannah State University, I recently spoke with a retired professor who was proud of his classical education. He memorized his introductions, could effortlessly quote Tennyson and Browning (both Brownings) – and winced when he thought of how social media was affecting modern students’ ability to articulate sentences.
But “they just don’t really care,” according to Kenedy Brandon, a 15-year-old high school student in Texas. “That’s the way they want to talk.” And her AP English teacher actually doesn’t have a problem with it – as long as students know better and apply that knowledge in class. “If they have the ability to switch from the ‘text-ese’ form of language into proper grammar, I think that’s pretty smart,” says Tammi Fritz.
And if they don’t? Well, the Tower of Babel never did get built.