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Find yourself using IM shortcuts in your everyday writing?
November 2, 2002 12:28 AM   Subscribe

Find yourself using IM shortcuts in your everyday writing? According to the article, many teachers are seeing IM shortcuts such as u, r, 2, @, etc. turning up in students' papers. Some think the IM influence contributes to literacy and others worry about the death of handwriting as well as normal written English. Wonder how many students have ended papers with the odious kthxbye?
posted by Lynsey (65 comments total)

 
A simple solution would be to teach kids keyboarding at an early age. It takes me way more effort for me to write something like 'u r teh suck' then it does to write 'you are the suck' because those words are just hardwired into my brain.
posted by delmoi at 12:48 AM on November 2, 2002


Or as one student responded when asked about IM: "It's just a convo about life.

"It's kewl."


I'm taking a poll. How many of you believe this was a completely fabricated quote?
posted by 4easypayments at 1:18 AM on November 2, 2002


In one of my first posts on usenet back in '93, I predicted that written English would be supplanted by iconographics by 2200. U, r, 2 & @ shortcuts are the first step in that evolution.
posted by mischief at 1:27 AM on November 2, 2002


mischief: You mean "de-evolution."
posted by Down10 at 1:33 AM on November 2, 2002


Prince has a lasting habit of doing this with his song lyrics.
posted by johnnyace at 1:59 AM on November 2, 2002


You're telling me! I deal with my student's papers and there isn't a single one of them that isn't entirely in instant messaging rap. Bitches this and capping that and cyber this and popping that. One of them even messaged me "your time is over, old m@n" before threatening my life.

I feel so old.
posted by holloway at 2:06 AM on November 2, 2002


Down10: how can it be de-evolution? The entire English language that we use is constantly evolving and this metamorphasis happens to suit the people that use the language. Look how much stick the French get for their language elitism and their pathetic attempts to curb the Americanisms that creep into France.
posted by ajbattrick at 2:19 AM on November 2, 2002


Its an intrestin deb8 btwn how Englsh shuld be tot an hw ppl us t n rl lif. 1 of my frends is still at skul, and sh mst snd about 900 sms txt msgs a mnth. Snce thyr limitd on spc, u hav 2 writ lik ths 2 gt ur msg acros.

And aftr a hrd day's txtin, it sorta sticks in the fngrs, so whn it comes tim 2 writ ur english homewrk, it's hrd to stp, iv cn the haf-writn pages as proof.

But ths is mainly about spelin, in the UK at least, not about new words or grammatical constructions, as evolution would imply.

O wel, g2g

WBBX

(write bak, Bonaldi, x)
posted by bonaldi at 2:54 AM on November 2, 2002


Yeah ajbattrick, but you can't help but feel things are taking a turn for the worse when you see things like:

I RoxorZ u! My l33t m@d skillz! U R w33k!

To quote the video game lingo of my 15 year old brother. (Not kidding)

The scary thing is, my brother is actually quite literate for a 15 year old. He's very well read, and can write and speak clearly when he needs to.

This supports a theory of mine that claims that people converse in this way not because they are lazy, but because it is 'computer-ey'. Communicating in this manner is how they show their electronic dominance over another. 'I RoxorZ U' becomes the digital equivalent of the NFL's end zone dance.

Which is all well and good in and of itself. Just realize what it is and leave it where it belongs. Such language no more belongs in an English paper than an end zone celebration at a ballet recital.
posted by cohappy at 3:12 AM on November 2, 2002


On phones it's fine. The keyboard sucks, you have limited space to get a message across and you get maybe one sentence at a time delivered to you. In paragraphs like that it just sucks. Sorry mate, I tried. I couldn't finish the first sentence.
posted by vbfg at 3:13 AM on November 2, 2002


Make the students write their essays in hand instead of on computer. Two flies with one swat! You'll probably stop (most of) the mannerisms from the SMS-text messaging, and you'll improve the abysmal handwriting of the many who never learned how to write properly and legible(!)
posted by cx at 3:42 AM on November 2, 2002


I dunno, I think a ballet based on end-zone celebration dances would be kinda cool.

And maybe they could make it be about architecture.

<jules_feiffer>A dance to Fallingwater.</jules_feiffer>
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:51 AM on November 2, 2002


Find yourself using IM shortcuts in your everyday writing?

One of the first things you're taught in any writing class is that there are different kinds of writing. Formal writing (English paper) is going to require a little more command of language and vocabulary than an AIM converstation (or any casual conversation), and if the teacher doesn't express that from the get go, then there's a problem.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 4:03 AM on November 2, 2002


I'm a reporter who writes for a web site, and I get a lot of email from readers. I don't have time to answer all of the questions I get, so I perform email triage. First to go are emails WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS. Next 2 go r emails written in IM language. If you make it difficult to read, I don't have time for you.

I'll bet college admissions officers and job interviewers feel the same way. I'm glad these English teachers are holding the line.
posted by Holden at 4:52 AM on November 2, 2002


now the smart kids could add im terms to their ms word autocorrect list. the kid types "u r teh suck" and "you are the suck" appears on the screen. i only wish my cell phone could do that.

but what do i know? i can go days without caps.
posted by birdherder at 4:57 AM on November 2, 2002


I'm not really one for accronyms, me. All those 'lol's and 'ggl's really get my goat.

I've thought of a good new geek term though - 'NTCG'. It stands for 'Next Time Check Google'. For all those times when someone emails you, or calls you over to the other side of the office. They ask a really stupid question, and either you know the answer straight off, or the dilemma can be solved by a swift check on google.com. When said idiot emails you back to thank you for your help, you can reply with a sarcastic 'ntcg', and they'll be baffled as to 'wtf' you mean by it.

Hopefully it'll enter common terminology soon enough. After all, I get presented with situations like that a dozen times a day.
posted by tapeguy at 5:20 AM on November 2, 2002


Yeah, LOL is my candidate for the most abused acronym on the planet. It's not even used correctly by most: they tack it fatuously on the end of a phrase to indicate that the phrase is supposed to be funny, even if it really isn't. It's usually not humorous at all, or even ironic. It's like the exclamation mark: used to indicate excitement, even if the so-tagged sentence is rather humdrum or boring. It's also like so much bad fan fiction. The authors write a line of dialog which is intended to promote laughter, but because they can't write real comedy, they add an attribution like, "...she chuckled." Chuckled! LOL!!!! That automatically makes it funny, right?
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:46 AM on November 2, 2002


I've thought of a good new geek term though - 'NTCG'. It stands for 'Next Time Check Google'.

Can we also include Next Time Check Metafilter?

Not only did we discuss this before, but we even had the same reference to Prince.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:55 AM on November 2, 2002


There's another downside as students have gravitated to computer keyboards: Penmanship is suffering.

Well, finally. Unless you're going to be a calligrapher, penmanship - even the word sounds like a musty relic - belongs in the dustbin of educational history, along with slide rules and mandatory home ec for girls. If these kids have computers, why aren't they typing their papers? If the answer is because they're required to handwrite them, I have no sympathy for these out-of-touch educators.
posted by transona5 at 7:02 AM on November 2, 2002


Thank you, XQUZYPHYR , I was trying to find that, but couldn't...im obvsly nt l33t enuff
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:28 AM on November 2, 2002


Formal writing (English paper) is going to require a little more command of language and vocabulary than an AIM converstation (or any casual conversation), and if the teacher doesn't express that from the get go, then there's a problem.

Is this not obvious to everyone (obviously not, but why not?)? It's all about context, kiddos.

I suspect teenagers would not be lampooned so often if they weren't so darned inelegant much of the time.
posted by rushmc at 7:40 AM on November 2, 2002


penmanship - even the word sounds like a musty relic - belongs in the dustbin of educational history.

I couldn't disagree more. Penmanship is one of the fundamentals that everyone should learn and master.

It's sickening to see the handwriting of some people these days (even in mathematics, when you can't tell if their answer is a 6 or a 4, you know they're in trouble).

Not everything revolves around technology and the keyboard. There are finer things in life, and the ability to write is one of them.
posted by mfli at 8:29 AM on November 2, 2002


My mother is a high school teacher in a middle- to upper-middle class area (happily set to retire in one year). This sort of thing is a problem, she says. But it's not necc. IM that she sees as the cause, rather just an inability to communicate via verbal/written language. Instead of complex language, simpler symbols and icons are the mode of communication. One phen. she notices is that her kids communicate with "sampled" references to movies, songs, common sayings, etc. So for example, instead of saying "he went berserk and killed people" you'd say "he went postal," or instead of saying "debonair" you'd say "James Bond."

Oh, and XQUZYPHYR - you know, not a single person (aside from yourself) on this thread participated in that previous thread. So no, "we" didn't discuss it before. The link to the previous discussion is helpful -- like a supplement to this thread. But just because one set of folks discussed an issue before doesn't mean a different set shouldn't. This wasn't at all like the flood of sniper posts, either. And what rule of human dialogue states that issues/themes can only be discussed once, period, and that first discussion is the end-all-and-be-all treatment of the issue?
posted by Kneebiter at 8:57 AM on November 2, 2002


not a single person (aside from yourself) on this thread participated in that previous thread. So no, "we" didn't discuss it before. The link to the previous discussion is helpful -- like a supplement to this thread. But just because one set of folks discussed an issue before doesn't mean a different set shouldn't. This wasn't at all like the flood of sniper posts, either. And what rule of human dialogue states that issues/themes can only be discussed once, period, and that first discussion is the end-all-and-be-all treatment of the issue?

Kneebiter, it says you've been registered since August, which means you were here when "we" discussed this topic back in the ancient history of five weeks ago. No- you're right, this wasn't at all like the sniper posts, because in those cases people were at least posting some new information. All I see here is the same story with a different writer, and as I already pointed out, similar comments already on this board. This isn't an update, this isn't a new perspective. It's the same story convered by a different reporter: in other words: it's already been posted. Deal with it.

Considering how several thousand people are registered here I think it's safe to assume that a lot of them didn't "have a chance" to talk about it. So what? I'm not trying to restrict human dialogue; I'm just noting Metafilter etiquitte.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:49 AM on November 2, 2002


Kneebiter: From the About MetaFilter page:

A thread (sometimes called a post) is one of the main messages you see on the MetaFilter homepage. These are the starting points for discussions, and are ideally unique, interesting, valuable links accompanied by commentary that starts an engaging conversation.

"Unique." OK? (In other words, what XQUZYPHYR said.)
posted by languagehat at 10:08 AM on November 2, 2002


MetaTalk, kids. It's not just there cos it sounds clever, you know?
posted by armoured-ant at 10:43 AM on November 2, 2002


As a somewhat related aside, this reporter, Chris Cobbs, spoke with me a couple of months ago for another article on how IM is being adopted by teens: Kids Buddy Up with Digital Pals.
posted by andrewraff at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2002


The guidelines that discourage repetitive postings and encourage unique postings make great sense. I also think one should certainly search past threads before posting. But I also think there are situations where "repeat" posts are less egregious than others. This thread, which prompted an engaging discussion by a group of interested folks, just doesn't seem to fall into that category. If it is a repeat, and if it's not a situation where the top level has been inundated with posts on the issue in question, why not just ignore it and let the people who are interested in it discuss? Sometimes etiquette can be overdone. Enough beating dead horses though. I'll shut up now.
posted by Kneebiter at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2002


This looks like a rewrite of a story the NY Times did back Sept. 19 titled "Nu Shortcuts in School R 2 Much 4 Teachers" (registration required). It even quotes the same OED editor.
posted by JParker at 11:52 AM on November 2, 2002


tapeguy: When said idiot emails you back to thank you for your help, you can reply with a sarcastic 'ntcg', and they'll be baffled as to 'wtf' you mean by it.

And then you end up spending more time explaining it than it's worth. (I have all but given up IMHO and YMMV for the most part, except on such 3l33t places like MeFi.)

I fondly remember alt.tla from when I used to read Usenet. It was devoted to TLAs -- Three-Letter Acronyms.

My former boss would occasionally send me e-mails from his Blackberry pager...they were difficult to read. I understand that it's more cumbersome to type on a pager than on a keyboard, but I think it's being lazy when you can't spell out stuff like "you", "for", "at", and "too." (On my pager, counting shift keys, it takes at most one less keystroke to abbreviate these. Are you really THAT harried?)
posted by Vidiot at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2002


I read the Metafilter thread on the NYTimeas article JParker noted. I don't mind seeing the same topic coming up every now and again, as long as it's not absolutely bludgeoned to death. I suspect this issue will be discussed more in the future as it grows in significance.
posted by Loudmax at 12:23 PM on November 2, 2002


it's an old story.. people are just slower in some places to pick it up than others.

I would say that life *does* revolve around technology, and, as an extension, the keyboard. Although I trust that a better interface will be designed.

I do not find writing all that fine, especially English class.

If we write by hand (and for writing I did in my class in backwards upstate NY we did), I at least still involve many of the chat mannerisms.

Lol does not mean it is funny, it means that the perpetrator (heh) is amused.

This is all about culture clash.. these things happened years ago and yet only now do some people pick up on it.. if you wish to remain aloof, well, much of the world has successfully done so, so far. New Economy failed for just such a reason, the people involved were caught up in the times, in the place, amongst each other and their culture. Sad to say that the rest of the world will take change very slowly.
posted by firestorm at 12:54 PM on November 2, 2002


Get it right, dude. it's kthxbai
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2002


I'm late to the internet game so I've been detesting abbreviations the whole time. I have no idea what most people are trying to say. This is why I've gravitated to metafilter: it's in english. IMHO? I'm a hoe? YMMV? I actually heard somebody say "LOL" in a bar the other day. He pronounced it like a word, "LOL." I almost got off my stool to hit him. This shit has got to stop.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:05 PM on November 2, 2002


As someone who grew up with a learning disability i'd say that forcing kids to make hand written assignments only is quite possibly one of the most ass-backwards idea's out there. The use of a word processor allows you to move, rewrite, and check your writing so much faster then by hand that it's just masochistic not to use one. I can still remember switching from paper to computer and i think it seriously opened up my ability to write, or at least it kept me from turning in assignments that were eraser smudged messes. That and my grammer has never been good either way (engineer i are).

As for the changing form of the language i have a feeling it's just another effect of technology and generation changes. We (those who can't read IM shorthand) grew up without computers for instant communication, and therefore we never had to learn to write on a keyboard in shorthand. In the end some sort of technology will show up that will just zip past you, have you ever watched your parents try and figure out the VCR and just cringed.
posted by NGnerd at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2002


Nothing about this article or most of the comments should be very surprising. Language is always changing, and children have long been one of the most productive age groups for new terms. If language is always changing, it follows naturally that adoption is going to be sporadic and uneven. Not every English peaking person knows what LOL means, but a lot of people do, and that number appears to be growing every day.

It also is unsurprising that there is some amount of concern by people over the inevitable change to language. Control of language is one of the most fundamental social powers that groups or individuals can strive for.

Although most people will agree with the statement “language is always changing,” I doubt most people have any real comprehension of the degree of change. As an experiment, I went to the Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.geocities.com/etymonline/) and did a search on 1950. These are the terms that had some origin in the year 1950 (some were more generally the 1950’s). Many of these terms are in common usage today and at some point in the past moved out of the realm of slang to common usage. Some of the terms seem so standard, it is hard to believe they had such a recent origin.

Aqualung
Big bang
Big kahuna
Bisexual (entered general use)
Bitchen (as in good)
Brainwashing
Clinker (meaning stupid mistake)
Cloud nine
Ergonomics
Escalate (in the sense of “rise”, entered general use)
Flip (as in get excited)
Give head
H-Bomb
Head-shrinker
Hi-Fi
Like (as a presumed emphatic, such as “going, like, really fast”)
Loser (general use as “hapless person”)
LSD
McCarthyism
Molest (meaning to sexually assault)
Napalm
Negatory
See-through
Stiff (meaning “to cheat”)
Subtext
Summit (as in meetings of heads of state)
Top banana, second banana
UFO
Uzi
World class
XXX
Yak or yack
Yo-yo
posted by Tallguy at 2:05 PM on November 2, 2002


Well done, Tallguy. Are you a linguist? (I'd write you, but you don't have an e-mail on your profile.)
posted by languagehat at 2:50 PM on November 2, 2002


Ugh. Using IM abbreviations in standard or formal writing is not okay. Using them in verbal conversation is not okay. (But perhaps I am too picky--I don't even think writing "ok" is okay. "Ock"?)
I have mixed feelings about the handwriting debate. It's absurd, I think, to grade children on their handwriting skills, especially at a young age (bias disclaimer: I got a C in handwriting in first grade because I didn't have the hand-eye coordination to make the circle and the line on "d" and "g" match up). On the other hand, there is no way you can go through life only typing messages to people.
NGnerd's point is important, but isn't the whole issue. There are plenty of people for whom writing by hand is easier because it better matches the way their brains work. Anthony Trollope, for instance, wrote straight through his novels, hardly ever rearranging sentances or even changing words. Word-processing wouldn't have made a big difference to him. Teachers need to take the learning disability issue into more consideration all-around. Part of mine is that I can only understand numbers and equations when they're in my own handwriting--when a teacher tried to explain something to me, I actually had to re-copy it before I knew what she was talking about. To each his own mode of writing, as long as it can communicate to the intended audience.
posted by hippugeek at 3:13 PM on November 2, 2002


[almost falls out of rocking chair]
When I was in school, people were railing about how we were entering a new age of illiteracy because students said "yeah" instead of "yes ma'am", occasionally wrote "OK" in their papers, and failed to learn Latin and Greek. This is the kind of issue that has always made people over 30 look stupid, fortunately enabling young people to feel superior.
posted by fuzz at 3:15 PM on November 2, 2002


Thank you languagehat. I am not a linguist, but I am an anthropological archaeologist. Change through time is an occupational interest of mine.

And thank you for notifying me about my email. It should be visible now.

Great post fuzz!
posted by Tallguy at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2002


There are finer things in life, and the ability to write is one of them.

I only wish I had my mother's cursive hand--but then she grew up when handwritten ledgers were the norm and typewriters the exception. Her hand was calligraphy compared to the pared down version I learned--it was the difference between Vivaldi and Lucida Handwriting. There is nothing more elegant than a handwritten letter and nothing more personal with all that tacit unspoken content of mood and feeling. All that is lost when typed. Everyone should learn cursive just as everyone should learn piano, guitar, ballroom dancing and the language of flowers.

But times change---what amazes me about my friend's children is how much time they spend on the phone and instant messaging. It's as if they would die if they weren't constantly talking to someone on the phone, ofttimes in three way or conference calls, and IM'ing madly to a half dozen more people all at the same time. And their conversations are not unlike cable tv--500 channels with nothing on--gossip, catchphrases, gossip, buzzwords, gossip and idle brainfarts, all expressed in fragments of sentences and IM-ese, pretty much content-free. Oh, the vapidity!
posted by y2karl at 3:41 PM on November 2, 2002


Silence reminds us of our own mortality, y2karl. That's my theory, anyway. Well, Don DeLillo's too.
posted by Hildago at 4:17 PM on November 2, 2002


Young people thinking about mortality? That's a novel concept.
posted by y2karl at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2002


No, no, they don't want to think about mortality; that's why they can't stand silence.

(And just watch, they'll wind up being immortal. Damn kids.)
posted by languagehat at 5:37 PM on November 2, 2002


On the other hand, there is no way you can go through life only typing messages to people.

People keep saying this, but that doesn't make it true. I do believe the only complete sentences I've written by hand in the last decade have been in greeting cards.
posted by kindall at 8:22 PM on November 2, 2002


students said "yeah" instead of "yes ma'am"

OT: My son's first school banned "yes ma'am" cuz kids used it with a mocking voice. We homeschooled him ever since (for other reasons than that).
posted by mischief at 9:46 PM on November 2, 2002


you'll improve the abysmal handwriting of the many who never learned how to write properly and legible(!)

Actually, I've been working on an Alumni list for an exclusive and very traditional private school, and some of the hand written forms I've had to decipher have made me wonder what the hell they're teachin' at that sissy school o' theirs.

I'm not talking about recent students either, some of these guys graduated in the 40's
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:09 AM on November 3, 2002


Using IM abbreviations in standard or formal writing is not okay.

LOL
posted by meech at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2002


People keep saying this, but that doesn't make it true. I do believe the only complete sentences I've written by hand in the last decade have been in greeting cards.

There used to be a style of writing called "cursive", intended for non-technical writing as in letters or quick notes. I learned this in school, but aside from signing my name on forms and checks I don't think I've even once had reason to use it. Nor, save in letters from my mother, have I seen any cursive writing in the wild. I suspect that the next generation will have difficulty even reading it, should they come across it in a history book.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:24 AM on November 3, 2002


Phew, quite a few concepts floating around in this discussion...a bit more than the last discussion we had on this topic.

I do not find writing all that fine, especially English class

LOL No, it isn't funny, but I'm rather bemused by this sentence. What the hell does it mean? I suspect Firestorm needs to go back to English class so s/he can learn to communicate.

On the topic of handwritten vs. word processed, I think an analogy to the calculator might be in order. Today, in the classroom, individual computers are not usually available, so students still have to manually write out spelling and essay tests. Therefore, legible writing is still necessarily taught. Just as, in life after school, most people use a calculator to pay bills, figure out a restaurant tip, and collate data, but students still have to learn to add, subtract, multiple and divide in their heads.

So some people such as kindall will be able to go through life after school never using handwriting, just as most people don't have to use their brain for simple mathematics. In the mid-eighties I had a computer geek neighbor who never had to manually write out a shopping list because he had formatted a list with check boxes for all the things he normally bought. Items appeared in the order in which they were laid out in the store. (I used to wonder what he did when the store changed its layout.)

But for others, shopping lists, condolence letters, and quick notes will always be done by hand. And-- gasp-- there may come a day when you find yourself needing to write something out and your computer is unavailable (think death bed Last Will and Testament.)

On the topic of slang and abbreviations, slang has been around forever-- look at the word "ain't"-- and English teachers have been beating the slang out of their students for forever. That is the job of English Composition teachers: to teach formal English usage. Will IMHO, LOL, and IANAL become as acceptable as OK at some point in the future? Ah, that is the excitement of the ever-evolving, ever-expanding English language, dude.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:41 AM on November 3, 2002


P.S. My partner gets a love note included in his lunch box at least twice a week. These notes are written in cursive, because love notes should always be written in cursive.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:45 AM on November 3, 2002


Palm's graffiti having a similar effect?
posted by rak at 10:51 AM on November 3, 2002


Penmanship is one of the fundamentals that everyone should learn and master.

Back when I was a young man, we had to use a quill pen. And none of that fancy india ink either, we used our own blood. Sometimes we would have to walk 5 miles just to get paper. Barefoot, in the snow. Uphill, both ways. With nothing but a cold potato for breakfast. Did we complain? No, we liked it that way! It built character.


Not everything revolves around technology and the keyboard. There are finer things in life, and the ability to write is one of them.



Hello! Pens ARE technology. Was your great^N grandfather bemoaning the laziness of young whippersnappers for letting their chisel skills slide?

By all means teach the kids to print. But teaching cursive handwriting is a total waste of time. Might as well teach the little darlings how to use a buggy whip.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:59 PM on November 3, 2002


But it's not necc. IM that she sees as the cause, rather just an inability to communicate via verbal/written language. Instead of complex language, simpler symbols and icons are the mode of communication. One phen. she notices is that her kids communicate with "sampled" references to movies, songs, common sayings, etc. So for example, instead of saying "he went berserk and killed people" you'd say "he went postal," or instead of saying "debonair" you'd say "James Bond."

How is this an inability to communicate? I would argue the opposite: "He's so James Bond" communicates a far richer and more vivid picture than "He's so debonair." One of the great lies they teach in elementary school is to use adjectives to describe. Use nouns, symbols that connote other symbols, if you want to make a thing Good, immersive, non-cliche`d.

Out, damned spot! out, I say!--One: two: why,
then, 'tis time to do't.--Hell is murky!--Fie, my
lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
fear who knows it, when none can call our power to
account?--Yet who would have thought the old man
to have had so much blood in him.


Or would you have preferred Shakespeare to put in the mouth of Lady Macbeth: "Despite my power, I can't stop feeling guilty about killing this man."?

(Incidentally, Shakespeare, being one of those illiterate kids, seems to have forgetten the question mark on that last sentance.)
posted by Tlogmer at 7:25 PM on November 3, 2002


Wet Spot: You had potatoes? We just had to eat the snow.
posted by languagehat at 8:09 PM on November 3, 2002


As long as someone brought up The Bard, language evolves folks. I'm an English prof myself, and I hate the way my students write nowadays, but language evolves. Not De-evolves. If it didn't we would all still be speaking and writing like they did in Beowolf. Let it evolve. It's not like suddenly the world cannot understand you because you don't write in computer-speak.
posted by archimago at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2002


[nitpick]
these aren't 'IM' contractions.

They predate IM. They predate the Web. Hell, they very nearly predate the Internet. When storage or transmission recording time is restricted, contractions evolve.

You look at any techy science students notebooks and find out how many of them actually write 'function'. (personally it always ended up as fn
[/nitpick]
posted by twine42 at 12:21 PM on November 4, 2002


Languagehat, you had snow? We had to eat our own fingers.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:26 PM on November 4, 2002


indeed, fuzz, wetspot, tlogmer, twine.

There is nothing exciting about English. It is the province of the staid and the old, exactly the "older" generation, the Luddite, the ones who cannot perceive change.

Nothing wrong with old people - I'll be one myself someday ;)

but it is the resistance to change, the blind orthodoxy, that bothers me. The total ignorance of all my English teachers from high school onward of technology is appalling. Their incompetence at their chosen field is telling.

You have got it wrong, Gravy. There is no excitement in English class, only nitpicking and orthodoxy and boredom. This, change, is alien to the class - it comes from the technology.
posted by firestorm at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2002


This shorthand is jargon and is natural. It is inevitable. The orthodox way is not the best way. Just as you, Gravy, gave allowed for different styles of different people, just the same, there is no one way of communication that is correct.

There are many contradictions inherent in English class - I found my teachers to be among the most ignorant and closeminded people I have ever known. As well as the one of the oft cited boons of studying English - that there is no one right answer.

They deceive themselves.
posted by firestorm at 9:43 AM on November 5, 2002


oops typos. My left hand is splinted, forgive me >:)
posted by firestorm at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2002


(stumbling belatedly back to thread)

There is no excitement in English class, only nitpicking and orthodoxy and boredom.

I found my teachers to be among the most ignorant and closeminded people I have ever known.


I'm sorry you had such stiflingly dull and static English classes, firestorm, but I think that may have been bad luck with teachers rather than a fault inherent to the subject. The vast majority of my English teachers and professors have been intelligent, quirky, creative people whose classes reflected their passion for new ideas. None of them accepted slang or gratuitous abbreviation in writing (except as a component of a specific and intentional voice). Literature is an art form apart from casual language use and deserves the dignity and elegance of more formal writing. (And yes, I also prefer oil paint to acrylic and horses to bicycles.)
posted by hippugeek at 2:46 AM on November 8, 2002


You're right about luck. I didn't have as good luck as you -- my English teachers couldn't be said to have been "intelligent, quirky, creative people" -- but I did go to schools (abroad) where kids who read a lot and got good grades were respected (or at least tolerated, by the less studious); it appalled me when I learned what most schools in the U.S. were like.
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on November 8, 2002


There is no excitement in English class, only nitpicking and orthodoxy and boredom.

And your problem is, Ferris Beuller Jr? My senior year English teacher made us memorize the most wack random lines from MacBeth and yet there were things like Gerard Manley Hopkins' Pied Beauty right there in our boring old textbook alone. She made no note of it but inquiring minds could find it just the same. Screw the whining and read and think and write. Hat tip to Basil Bunting on that last, of course.
posted by y2karl at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2002


I had forgotten "Pied Beauty" completely, y2karl--thanks for the reminder!
languagehat: There are a lot of things about American public school culture that appall me, but I'm not entirely sure what you're referring to. I found that the reading/grades crowd was more of a subculture than an oppressed minority. Some were extremely well-known and -liked in the school (though on thinking back, these were the ones also involved in sports), others were average, but very few were shunned. At the very least, I always felt respected.
posted by hippugeek at 1:19 PM on November 9, 2002


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