Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Language -- Funny You Should Say That


I was in school a long, long time ago when chalk boards were black not white, when girls wore dresses and boys pants rested at their waist not their knees. I grew up doing homework having spelling tests, doing math problems at the kitchen table (evens one night, odds the next), I learned to write in longhand and I discovered great joy at doing book reports on books I took from the public library.

I learned a lot in a seven hour school day with one teacher but one thing stays in my mind to this day and that was the declaration that the English language is difficult to learn -- lots of rules and exceptions to those rules -- lots of "i's" and "e's" and "c's". We struggled to remember that "receive" isn't "recieve" and that "there, their, and they're" aren't even close to the same thing. We learned "principles" and were sure we didn't want to have to visit the "principal". It was fun, it was hard and we learned.

The present generation is having it's own problem with the introduction of texting language. Why spell out "laughing out loud" when LOL will do and EVERYBODY understands and can spell it -- I have never seen LOL mispelled. Young people text like our generation talked on our pink or turquoise princess phones. It has been reported that texting is replacing talking amongst tween and teens -- they prefer the "written word" -- the meaning of that debatable. So, I guess it is no small wonder that the verbal communicative skills among the young adults is suffering. Have you ever stood in a checkout line, making small talk with the young person behind the register and have he/she look at you like she doesn't understand a word you are saying? They don't. It is almost frightening to think that these non-communicative upstarts will be voting adults in the not too distant future. This is a "generational thing" not unlike the "generational thing" of the 60's -- we don't understand, they didn't understand but we could read, spell and speak -- possibly too much and too loudly.

But, I have to wonder what happens when dealing with a person of similar age -- why is there a breakdown in communication? Why is it hard to follow direction? How in the world does "I like it very short in the back and close on the sides" somehow translate into "ah, let's give M a modified mullet -- yeah, that will work".

I guess next time I will have to text my preferences -- what is the code for "short in back"?