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Stormy weather, and revisiting writing

I waited about ten minutes too long to leave the office. Now there's a huge thunderstorm in progress. So I guess I'll stick around for a little while longer. ...

Remember my post from a couple of days ago about bad writing? There were a couple of good comments to it (thanks, chipuni and aaron_of_mpls), and they made me think some. I'm not sure how one would measure the overall writing ability in a society; I know for a fact I didn't make any sort of empirical survey, myself. Maybe such a survey would reveal that written communication is not doomed, but evolving.

My issue probably is that I'm pretty good at English the way it was taught in the 1960s and 1970s, and I like being good at it, and I don't want it to evolve away from my existing skill set. Change is bad. Fear change. Except, well, change happens. So it's a good thing that my internal translator works most of the time, and I ask questions the rest of the time, huh? Because in the end, it doesn't matter how it's said, it's whether the speaker is understood by the hearer, or the writer by the reader.

... eek—the radar shows storms from here clear back to Fort Wayne and Grand Rapids. In other words, it's going to storm for the next two or three hours at least. I'm not staying here THAT long. Wish me luck.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bonezman
May. 16th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC)
Change is good, change is our friend, and English is one of the most dynamic languages on the planet when it comes to change in step with social climate. But we do need to keep some basic rules in place to keep it from becoming something no one can understand. Like with the Ebonics disaster, we need to watch out for PIG versions of the language. We have enough of them coming out of London alone. Wow, the source of English has hundreds of derivations and we feel we can't add our own twists??

OK.. I never felt that my English was that good. My worst subject according to the ACT, but I still blow most of the kids away and even many of those from my own generation. That and I believe we have several valid version of the written language to use when appropriate. As a very technical person, I tend to write a lot in tech English. A language that has officially (from a few of the text books I have used in the past) evolved from the need to convey complex information in a reasonable number of pages. To say what takes a page/page in a half of tech English in standard English might take dozens of pages to an entire book. Basically, tables and bullet points have become part of the language when trying to be technical, but do so when tell a story is just hog wash. Wrong language.. Like with Asian languages, there are versions appropriate to the context of the writing. To use the alternate form is just a show of ones ignorance.

There for, it is acceptable to use IM speak when IM'ing, but to use it in day to day speaking/writing is out of context and just bad English. To spell wrong is just bad. We all do it, but it is a mistake none the less. A PIG form of English, true, but does it really cause us any harm? Only if we can not keep it in context. Some of it will leak into standard English, but that is part of the process that has been shaping the young language for many centuries already. Go 50 years back and you will find that people will find you use of the language odd. 100 years and you might find communications difficult. 200 years and they might consider you an idiot. We must not fear change, but we need some consistency as well. Ultimately, the English snobs will loose. The language has never been stable so why expect it to be now??

My 2.5 cents..
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