Fight 1337 Speak… Please Help Save Our Language

    December 17, 2004

“OMFG! W00+!!! Dat s0000000 Kewl!!!!1! Dat is teh LOL!!!!”

It’s happening. The Internet is invading our lives and our minds and corrupting as it progresses. Shorthand is destroying our youths’ spelling and grammar. In the worst cases these Internet phrases even are spilling over into every day life. I still shudder with horror remembering the day that someone actually said ‘LOL’ to me.

I’m not some old crab fighting against the changes of the world. I’m 19 years old and studying software engineering at university. I love computers and use instant messaging programs constantly, but there’s a serious problem when I can’t even read some of the messages flowing between my younger siblings and their friends. With sentences such as ‘OMFG! ROTFLMAO! RTFM N00B!’ being thrown around liberally, the state of global communication is in jeopardy!

So, here are some helpful tips to keep your messages legible and English:

– Judicious use of acronyms will save time, but won’t obscure the meaning of your sentences. The use of ‘LOL’ may indeed be an appropriate method to purvey your mirth over a particularly witty comment, but ‘OMFG! Dat was teh LOL!’ does not make sense (even when you unravel the acronyms into coherent words) and takes a lot longer to write.

– ‘Teh’ is not a word; it is an honest spelling mistake that can easily be made when typing quickly. It should never be deliberately substituted for the original word, ‘The’, which contains the same three letters and takes just as long to write.

– Letters are placed in a very specific order to create words. Permutations of letters create either nonsensical gibberish or another word entirely, one that will often seem contextually out of place if it is born of pure accident. Please keep your letters in an orderly group.

– The word ‘so’ is spelt with just one ‘O’. The word ‘well’ is spelt with just one ‘E’. Adding superfluous letters to your words is actually undoing the effect that your gratuitous use of Internet acronyms are supposed to have on your message length.

– Contrary to popular belief, the word ‘Cool’ is spelled without the use of a ‘K’, and ‘E’ or even a ‘W’. There is a high probability that you don’t even pronounce it in a manner that would infer those letters, so why type them? Typing four different letters is no slower than typing the original four that actually belong to the word.

– Exclamation Marks are solitary creatures. They don’t like to be herded together into packs. They also take offense to the presence of many other punctuation marks, such as the affable but sometimes irritating Question Mark. Please don’t abuse our friend the Exclamation Mark, don’t force him/her to share sentence space with other sentence ending punctuation marks.

– The letter ‘D’ is not the phonetic equivalent of ‘TH’. The letters ‘TH’ form a soft sound, but the letter ‘D’ is a hard sound. Please try not to confuse the two.

– The first letter of the first word of a sentence should be capitalized. The first letter of a proper noun should be capitalized. Gratuitous use of capitalization should be avoided and used only as a last resort.

– Numbers are not letters. You cannot spell a word with numbers; no matter how hard you try. You can spell a number with letters, but the opposite is not true. Numbers are not as versatile as we have been lead to believe. Punctuation marks behave similarly, and should not be used in the formation of words.

– Emoticons are useful tools for showing your emotions. Avoid abusing them and trying to construct entire sentences or stories using the little yellow smiles. It doesn’t work.

I know I can’t turn the tide of popular opinion, but as someone who actually likes our language I sometimes feel as though I have to try. Languages evolve and change over time to fit the current generation’s needs. There’s no need or point in stopping this, but I’d prefer that our language continued to contain actual words, not unpronounceable mish-mashes of letters.

Daniel Punch
Daniel Punch speaks English real goodly. Hopes does others too will.