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Gently does it …

January 22, 2010

Well – I finally got “the book” and so I’m ready to start week 1
Even though people are thinking about week 3, I’m going to idle at the introduction a moment, because it begins with the passage about a Scottish girl giving in an exam essay in txt spk.
I have kept an article from “The Guardian” February 03 (no precise reference … just an approximation scrawled on the photocopy). because the article in the Guardian itself was entirely written in textspeak.. The funny thing is that I got it out with an advanced group very recently (gap filler)
The article begins
Dnt u sumX rekn eng lang v lngwindd. 2mny wds & &ltrs?
and after reporting an education spokesperson as saying: “no1 can rite, no1 can spel ‘u wd b :-O @ nos of 2ndrypupls wh cant distngsh btwEn ‘ther’ & ‘ther’ “
the article continues “B frank. Do u care? Wot if all eng bcame txt spk? AAMOF eng lits gd in txt spk.”2BON2BTTTQ” ” 2moro & 2moro & 2moro” C? Shakesprs gr8 in txt!”

And my point is that my advanced students actually got something out of looking? reading? through it ! They reported in their course log having learned the idomatic expressions which are so fixed that their initials are enough (As A Matter Of Fact) @TEOED (at the end of the day) … and one that stumped me KUTGW (keep up the good work) longwinded, Be frank, etc, etc.
I thought I was just filling in time at the end of a lesson – starting a dicussion – and the good learners really got something out of it.
Did I hear ‘silly person – getting caught up in details’ ?…well – sort of, yes, but in fact I think of it more as stalling (because of my present negative feelings about the superficiality implicit in multiliteracy)….. I need to get my head around it before saying anything 🙂


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  1. Vance Stevens permalink

    You make some good points here. You don’t need to peer into the future to see the language changing. Have you ever tried to read Beowulf in the original? Bill Bryson has some interesting books based on his extensive research into the English language. His most recent (2009) on Shakespeare has reproductions of original archives where Shakespeare’s name appeared, and these appear to me as an early form of txtspk. Bryson’s work and that of others help debunk the myth that English has been preserved intact in the home country and Americans have changed it. Often it’s the other way around, the English speakers that moved overseas preserved the old forms which then evolved differently in the land of their origin. Pronunciation is one aspect of language that was affected, especially with the vowel shift that took place in England over 300 years lasting into the mid 18th century, by which time many English speakers had arrived in the new colonies still speaking in the old way, preserving in America what is now known as an "American" accent. On Googling this just now (The Great Vowel Shift) I came upon an NPR interview with Bill Labov who has been documenting a vowel shift going on now within the USA: <a href="; target="_blank"></a&gt;. So it seems to me entirely reasonable that txt spk cld chng the lang, whyn’t?

  2. Nina Liakos permalink

    I confess that I could not decipher much of Elizabeth’s examples. I remember when I thought that LOL meant Little Old Lady (which I seem to be becoming). I have managed to pick up some acronyms in a very limited way (brb; otoh; f2f…) but @TEOTD? AAMOF? 2BON2BTTTQ? Huh?

  3. Elizabeth Anne permalink

    @nina – at the end of the day (they’re all in the text) …. I really am off …lol

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