Do We Speak a Dead Language?


Image courtesy of Nicolas Nova's photostream

Image courtesy of Nicolas Nova’s photostream

With social media posting, text messaging and ease of chatting at an all-time high, the English language has been taking quite a hit.

Abbreviations are everywhere, from the oldies but goodies like ‘AFK’ and ‘LOL’ (which, by the way, is almost always typed with a straight face) – to the more complex, like ‘IIRC’ and ‘SWIDT.’ Just about anything nowadays gets shortened to an acronym (or JAANGSTAA).

As a self-proclaimed wordsmith, this troubles me. It seems that our culture is taking shortcuts so much that we aren’t as articulate as our ancestors, or that our speech is starting to mirror our texting shorthand. For instance, people are ‘totes excited’ or they say ‘O-M-G that’s cray-cray.’ When did a two-syllable word become so hard to say that we need to abbreviate it? Not to mention those that don’t even save syllables, like the aforementioned OMG.

I’m completely nonplussed.

I’m sure a lot of this comes off like I’m an angry old curmudgeon (and AOC if you will). But I wish we’d stop treating the English language like it’s a cassette tape, when really it’s a vinyl record. Words are not something to be treated like antiquated equipment. I actually take pride in trying to find out new words and their meanings, and use them as correctly as possible.

And while I’m on the topic of using words correctly, when did random become a synonym for anonymous? It has become engrained in our speech to the point that I even stumble and say I met a ‘random person’ when in reality they are just anonymous. I mean that, literally.

Comedian Eddie Izzard does a bit where he mentions that we are using the word awesome wrong nowadays – it used to mean something that gave you awe, left your mouth agape, staring at the awesomeness of the object you are looking at. But somehow even hot dogs are awesome now. Not quite the same as landing on the moon, is it?

So my plea to you is this: Don’t be afraid to shorten things when texting, but also do not lose your grasp of the English language. You will literally thank me for it. (YWLTMFI)

Be sure to tweet at me @TheRealTomZobel, and let me know if you agree, or if I’m just being a crotchety old man on this one.

Until next time,


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