Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

“Excuse me, but was I on the toilet when grammar as a whole went to hell in a hand basket?” asked Lynda, with her hands on her hips and a condescending smirk of superiority on her face.

You can go ahead and say it because I know just what you’re thinking: “Welcome to the twenty-first century, Grandma.” Call me old. Scratch that, OLD-ER. Even I know that I sound like nothing short of an Oldsmobile-driving, sensible-shoe-wearing English teacher, but lately I fight the gag reflex every time I think about how we have become a country that communicates through a system of silly acronyms and some sort of lazy shorthand probably invented by a teenager in a Hollister t-shirt who had enjoyed one too many Red Bulls. In case you were wondering, I am neither ROFL nor a MILF.

I am perfectly aware that language naturally evolves. Thou needst not remind me of this, m’Lord. Even with that knowledge in hand, I flatly refuse to be a party to this slacker-led uprising with its sight set on eliminating all punctuation and whittling down most words to just a letter or two. These Lil Wayne-loving warriors have even gone so far as to shorten an already shortened word: “OK” is now just “k”. One less letter made all the difference. I guess my poor, tired fingers and brain should thank them, but all I can think of is how Big Bird and Cookie Monster’s lifelong labor of love promoting literacy to generations of pre-schoolers is all for naught.

I simply love the written word. I am a sucker for a guy with a really large vocabulary, and at the risk of sounding like a complete Poindexter, I will admit to frequently picking up the dictionary and perusing it just for kicks. I deeply regret that the world has moved away from letter writing and on to choppy e-mailing and even choppier texting. This shift in culture played itself out in my own home last night as I was helping my son write thank you notes for his birthday gifts. (Yes, I make my children write thank you notes in their own handwriting.) When it came time to address the envelopes, he didn’t know how. My son is a fourth grader in a full time gifted and talented class, and he has never been taught how to properly address an envelope. I weep for the wireless future.

I am proud to be a one woman crusade, valiantly fighting to save the English language from Death by Abbreviation. I have declared my own personal fatwa against this rebellion by proofreading all e-mails before sending them and ensuring that I use complete sentences. Let it be known that from this day forward, should any of these thumb-typing insurgents actually expect a text reply from me, they are just going to have to wait a damn minute because I will be busy spelling out every word and using commas and apostrophes as needed. Oh, and BTW, IMHO, overuse of acronyms sux, like OMG...

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