There was a serious flaw in the 2007 movie Transformers. I didn’t care that giant, alien robots gained artificial intelligence or even that two teenagers worked along side the alien robots to help save the planet from the evil Decepticons, but it was just too much when Optimus Prime said, “We’ve learned Earth’s languages through the World Wide Web.”
I believe that if that were true, their conversations would have sounded much more like, “WTF Megatron? OMG did U C Bumblebee? BTW Optimus Prime is my BFF LOL.”
As someone who learned to type not from the mandatory BCIS class, but from many hours chatting on AOL Instant Messenger, I am familiar with Internet lingo and the SMS “language.”
SMS stands for short message service. It is basically the language of texting and instant messaging, but it has surpassed the barriers of instant messengers with the growing popularity of text messages, and made its way into speech.
It is clear that languages evolve over time, which is why we no longer speak formal Shakespearean English. However, should we allow our language to become even less formal?
The Collins English Dictionary recently added the word “meh,” describing it as an expression of indifference or boredom. Its origins are unclear, but it became popular after being used by Bart and Lisa Simpson in a 2001 episode of “The Simpsons.”
You may ask, “What’s the harm in adding words to the dictionary?”
Well, the catch is that “obsolete” words are deleted from the dictionary to make room for the new ones.
Every time a word is created, another is basically destroyed. Do we really want to sacrifice distinctive words, only to replace them with things like “Google” and “woot?”
Despite these reservations, it’s clear that SMS isn’t going anywhere. It has taken over communication, but I don’t feel comfortable being a part of the generation that began the destruction of English as we know it.
SMS does speed up the process of communication, but is that always a good thing? Does anyone really ever feel loved when reading “<3 U,” as opposed to the also short, yet significantly more sincere, “I love you.” Does it really take that much more effort?
Another problem with this contemporary shorthand is that it has spread into the spoken language.
Everyone is familiar with Cingular’s advertising campaign, “IDK my BFF Jill,” and while this was supposed to be a clever parody, these acronyms are becoming a part of everyday spoken language.
Teachers all over the world have been concerned with children’s inability to differentiate between SMS language and proper language. Eventually, the line that separates the two will disappear. Words will begin to lose letters until we communicate with mainly two and three letter words.
Using SMS to communicate through text messages is not necessarily destructive, but to be able to effectively, let alone, beautifully communicate in a wider range than a cell phone, it is necessary to learn more than these simple, minimalist terms.
Chatting with friends is one thing, but communicating thoughts and ideas to the world deserves proper language.