I recently received an email from an elderly aunt, which got me thinking about the state of the English language. The email was peppered with words like ‘u’ ‘yrself’ ‘hv’ ‘luv’ ‘wld’. This is a person in her 60’s, a college graduate, who speaks perfect English, and writes very well. In the days before she found email, I would get long newsy letters handwritten letters, which used sentence case, were grammatically correct, had no spelling mistakes and no abbreviations either.
Using abbreviations on messenger is understandable – I do it myself. Messenger is a form of conversation using a keyboard. Spoken language has always been more informal than the written word, and since it is instant communication, abbreviating words, to increase speed of communication makes sense.
Email however is an alternative to pen and paper. What is considered unacceptable in a letter is unacceptable in an email as well. It’s only the delivery mechanism for communication that has changed. I get emails however from clients, who evidently believe that using sentence case is optional, resumes from job seekers, who either haven’t heard about spell check or believe in creative spelling.
It’s easy to blame technology for all evils, but I believe the problem is more intrinsic. Take a look at our history , and the language with which thoughts and ideas were communicated
In the 18th century there was
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
In the 19th century we heard
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
In the 20th
‘ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.’
‘I have a dream’
In the 21st century what we are left with is‘Lets roll