Lamenting our language


Art by Kailie Otto

I look at my phone screen and cringe when I read “idk rn but ill txt u ltr.” First of all, punctuation has been part of the English language since around 400 A.D., according to The English Project, not to mention that reading in all lowercase letters with half the words spelled wrong is simply confusing. While the internet provides us with many valuable learning and communication tools, it’s butchering our language.

We’re making things fast and easy. I get it. People have shorter attention spans than a decade ago, according to Medical Daily, and we want to get messages across in the simplest way, even if that means getting rid of vowels, capital letters and punctuation. We’ve spent years working to expand our vocabularies and structure our language. It’s a shame to throw it all away because we’re tired of taking the time to use capital letters or full words to ask our mom what she’s making for dinner.

People argue that as long as texts and tweets are understandable to the people reading them, it doesn’t matter what sort of language they use. That has some validity, but at the same time, our language has rules so everyone can understand what other people say or write. And if you don’t use any punctuation, chances are your texts and tweets are going to be confusing. According to Dr. Amy Barker, English teacher, internet language is a double-edged sword and tends to exclude groups of people because not everyone knows what things mean. Texting lingo is exceedingly complicated and always changing, leaving both older and out-of-touch generations along with younger generations in the dust as it progresses.

Slang terms, regardless of how often they invade our language, can sometimes go too far. We’ve gone from “thou” to “you” and “art” to “are” but it’s a bit much to go from “you” to “u” and from “are” to “r.” And for some reason, people keep changing the meanings of words that have been the same for years, and for what? So we can pretend we have power over a language that has been in the works for centuries? If I wanted to, I could make up my own slang terms right now and use them all over the place like people use “lit,” “swag,” “on fleek,” or whatever else kids say these days. Not that I have any desire to alter our language, of course.

Texting acronyms are just as bad and seemingly infinite as the slang on the internet. Sure, it’s nice if you know what they all mean, but even as a 16-year-old, I find myself turning to Urban Dictionary to figure out what “IMHO” stands for (in my humble opinion, in case you were wondering). If someone was trying to save time by only using the first letters of the words they want to tell me, they would fail because it would end up taking more time for me to decipher what they were trying to say.

The internet has allowed us to pick and choose which parts of our language we want to use, slicing apart our vocabularies and implanting new definitions of words and slang to confuse us all. While I am a firm believer in correctly punctuated text messages, it seems that much of the internet couldn’t care less about colons and commas. I’m not trying to rid the internet of any and all LOLs and ILYSMs, but can’t we muster up enough respect to use a capital letter or an apostrophe every once in awhile?