I am not a Grammar Nazi but the more I read text messages and tweets from certain people, the more I want to get rid of all the electronic devices around me and force my nieces and nephews to grow up in a world where verbal truncation is not an acceptable way of life. I am overcome with the desire to kidnap everyone who uses the wrong homophone, lock them in a trailer and instruct them with flash cards til they get it right. Please examine the below text message from two years ago that I have immortalized in the memory of my phone.
“I wan 2 go luk 4 Ant u can giv me z bus fear?”
I can only imagine that this was his or her informal method of communication, that he or she puts greater effort into other aspects of his or her writing than he or she puts into begging ‘bus fear’. Examine also this tweet:
when he get up and c tht txt….
— Kima (@da_1deyluv2hate) April 1, 2013
Now, twitter allows you all of 140 characters to work with, you’ve only used 28 and find it necessary to abbreviate already short words like ‘see’, ‘that’ and ‘text’?
According to the American Library Association, digital literacy means the ability to locate, evaluate, and use digital information. The digitally literate can efficiently find the information they seek, evaluate that information, and use that information effectively. The ability to recognize what information is needed and when to use it are additional components of digital literacy.
I am disappointed that the Jamaican curriculum is still focusing on penmanship and so little on electronic typing skills, which includes texting. I believe this is the reason why so many people pay little attention to their electronic communication. I only write by hand on occasion when I have migraines and cannot face a screen; I acknowledge it is very counterproductive as I have to retype [sometimes I am unable to decipher my own handwriting] but I am sure that the emerging professional will have no need to scribble one word in ink. Perhaps the time invested in teaching chi
ldren Victorian cursive could be used to focus more on spelling and reading exercises. I haven’t seen any reading material in cursive since I left the third grade classroom. Even during school when I was forced to write cursive properly, I had primarily sans Serif types in my textbooks. This is largely like being forced to write an entirely different language than you read, they might as well have made us write Cyrillic.
Don’t you just love homophones? Apart from unnecessary truncation, this is the second most problematic issue I find in electronic communication, my third greatest concern is the nuances of American versus British English. I know that we now have spell checkers and acknowledge that they have been immensely useful to me but the only way you can use one effectively is if you actually know how to spell to a certain degree. Spell checkers are made to correct mistakes, not utter ignorance. There is no way around learning to spell. Even if your friends understand you, you need to be able to spell in order to effectively find information online. While Google and other search engines tend to make corrections some of the time, effective online communication and research relies on more than search engines so we have to be able to express ourselves correctly which means having a wide vocabulary and knowing which homophone to use.
I can only advise you, friends, to read more and encourage your children to do likewise. Just don’t believe that the grammar of editorials is correct. The Jamaican newspapers are no longer holding to the standards of English and now come riddled with blatant mistakes, but that’s a whole other story.