Speak And Spell

October 5, 2007

I must be approaching senility. I knew I was getting old when I started looking at what kids were doing and thinking, "That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in my life." The scary thing is I was about fourteen at the time, and some of those "kids" were older than I was. Fortunately the fad of shaving numbers and words into hair has passed. The thing that’s really scaring me now is the inability of kids to spell, and we adults are going right along with the new fad of reducing certain words to just their letters. The other day I got an e-mail from a friend of mine who’s old enough to know better that had, "How R U?" in the subject line. At least he had enough sense to use a question mark, but I had to write back to him and tell him that ‘R’ is a letter in the alphabet, not a verb.

Now I’m not strict about grammar. I’ve ended sentences with a preposition, sometimes even a proposition, and I’ve been known to savagely split infinitives. Do we really have to cut words down to single letters, though? No one over the age of twelve is going to have a clue what I’m saying if I send a message that says, "H W U G T T M L Z X". I’m not even sure what I just said, but there are probably a lot of twelve-year olds who’d read that and decide to stay away from the mall for a few hours.

Admittedly there are some cultures where cutting a few syllables off words wouldn’t hurt. It would make French, for instance, a lot easier to read, since they don’t pronounce the last half of any word. Reducing everything to single letters, though, is a dangerous path. The Romans already tried that. They used to put on their fancy togas and carry around big signs that said, "SPQR", which is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase that, roughly translated, means, "Billy, do you like films about gladiators?" But I digress. I’m worried that if we start communicating in single letter phrases it will create a snafu which would make everything fubar. When that happens I’ll probably be too old to do anything but LMAO.

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