Where Has Language as we Knew it Gone?

I’m as open to change as the next person; in fact, I know that life is transient and the only thing that is permanent is change itself. But if there’s one thing I can never get used to or bring myself to use is what we now term “text lingo” – the fashionable language that allows you to delete the vowels from words to shorten them and mix them with numbers that sound that parts of words to form totally unrecognizable words, all of which are fully accepted by anyone who uses a cellphone or is familiar with instant messaging. Apparently, if you frown at this usage, if you’re so focused on grammar and spellings, you’re not current or living in the present.

But, even at the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, I beg to differ from this point of view. While I think it’s each to their own when sending personal messages on your cellphone or when chatting online, when it comes to email and writing for websites, there are certain rules that need to be followed, even if you think they’re not “hip” and “relevant” to the times. No one likes to read emails that are grammatically incorrect and riddled with spelling mistakes. And believe me, if you’re getting away with the same kind of usage on your blog, it’s only because you haven’t noticed the drop in your readership.

You may think that language is a form of communication and that as long as you’ve included all the relevant information and facts in your missive (be it a letter, a blog post or a website page), it doesn’t matter that it’s peppered with grammatical and spelling errors. But what you don’t realize is that even a simple mistake like the misplacement of a comma or the transposition of words can change the meaning of whatever you’re trying to say. So because your knowledge of the language is poor, you may end up misleading your readers.

Some mistakes are just plain annoying – like the wrong placement of an apostrophe (saying you’re when you actually mean your) and the usage of I instead of me and vice versa. But there are others that could end up confusing your audience – like the placement of the world “only” in a sentence. For example, the sentences “John was only trying to help Jane” and “Only John was trying to help Jane” have totally different meanings. The first sentence is a sort of explanation for what John did because he somehow messed up while trying to help Jane, while the second praises John as the only person trying to help her. As another example, consider these two sentences – “Only children are allowed to play here” and “Children are allowed to play only here”. The first one has the word “children” as the subject and restricts the playing to children while the second has the location as the subject and restricts the location where the children are allowed to play.

So if you don’t want to end up making such mistakes when writing for your blog or website, it’s best to brush up on your language skills by including your vowels, cutting out the numerals from your words, and reading through what you’ve written to ensure that the meaning is loud and clear.