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Correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays.
~George Eliot, Middlemarch, 1872
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Getting to know me....
It seems appropriate that I end this on a Muppet quiz...this is the last of the Internet quizzes
HOW R U 2DAY?
23 March 2004
These are snippets from actual messages that appeared on a couple of boards I occasionally follow:
Maybe it's because I'm a typist by trade and typing is an extension of my brain (I type faster than I write, and as fast as I think, so I'm not struggling with two fingers or a hunt-and-peck method of communication) but this new shorthand that is becoming annoyingly more prevalent on the Internet is driving me nuts. It takes me much longer to wrap my brain around "love u dearly and are getng used to ur shrthnd" than it does to read "love you dearly and are getting used to your shorthand."
Even when I only could type one-handed, after the accident, I rarely used shorthand. I guess it's the old brain. I need to see the words spelled out.
The thing about this Internet shorthand is that it takes away from the flow of words...and we all know that I am interested in how words flow.
The Internet is a strange and wonderful thing. In the "wonderful" category is that it brings all sorts of unlikely people together on an equal playing field. Idiots can discuss high falutin ideas with geniuses and while it quickly becomes easy to identify which is which, someone who can talk a good game can stay in the discussion for a long time (sometimes longer than they should).
A new generation is growing up with the written word as part of their daily life, which is a wonderful thing. To be one of the guys, you have to write, something I suspect a couple of generation of kids never really learned how to enjoy.
But theres language and theres language.
John Steinbeck, quoted above, couldnt have predicted the explosion of the computer age when he wrote "East of Eden," but his quote is nonetheless applicable to what is happening to language in some areas today.
Quotes like this are never going to make it to posterity as thoughts by great thinkers.
I find that I have edited several of these silly quizzes I've been posting under "getting to know me" because of how grossly ungrammatical they are. (You'll be happy to know that we are almost at the end of the quizzes)
Even in areas where language is still a living entity, our slavish reliance on spellcheckers is killing grammar. It sometimes seems that nobody knows the difference between "its" and "its" any more. Or "your" and "youre." Or "there" and "their." Spellcheck reads a documents, finds no spelling errors, and the grammatically incorrect word makes it into magazine articles, and books.
The problem with spellcheck was never more clear than this glaring front page headline that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle the other morning:
NUMBERS PUT FACE ON A PHENOMENA
Apparently whoever had the final say before the paper hit the streets didnt even realize that "phenomena" is the plural of "phenomenon" and thus using "A" phenomena is grammatically incorrect.
I wonder how many Chronicle readers actually noticed.
Of course, now that this entry is written, I will undoubtedly fall under some sort of grammatical Murphy's Law. I will find that when I go back over entries and re-read them, they will be riddled with grammatical errors, which will be really--I swear!--just typos.
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