Auld Lang Syne

Monday, June 27, 2011

Luggage and Other Lost Items

A bit groggy this morning (it is 10 AM) as we did not get back from the airport until nearly 3AM. I will have (take) a low key approach to the day and recover. Daughter #1 is here safely, but a bit worse for the wear. Her luggage is somewhere else (at JFK? at Dulles?) and she is exhausted from a long week of travel and intense study. I tucked her into bed and told her to sleep as long as she needs to sleep. I'm so glad she is here. She needs a break from EVERYTHING stressful, everyONE stressful. We can provide that, a little love and care from us ought to help. If only the damned baggage would just arrive!

This lost luggage incident makes me think of other things lost, like good grammar and proper written language. In this fast-paced techno world, we are losing ends and chunks of words in favor of computer-jargonized abbreviations. U takes the place of you, brb has replaced be right back which was once I'll be right back. The list of language degradations is endless. When one texts (now a verb by the way, or BTW) one has only so much space, so these abbreviations seem appropriate. But what I don't like is the use of this lingo is that it has begun to creep into writing. To be sure, it is "common" and we tend toward the common. But I began to see this in the term papers and essays of my students. When I pointed out that papers and slang are incompatible,"huh?" was the response I got, along with the occasional hostile remark. In one case I was told rather abruptly that it was I who needed to change. Really?  I recall my literary criticism professor remarking that eventually the contraction would disappear in terms of the apostrophe. I insisted that wouldn't happen. She was of course right. How often I see cant rather than can't which of course had replaced the earlier use of cannot. Well, I am not advocating for being stiff about language and speech. We should have text language for texts and common, colloquial speech for conversations, slang terms for casual situations. But OMG, I can't take it in formal writing.

Tlk 2 U later.


  1. Well, you're right--at the moment, at least, "LMAO" hasn't got much place in formal writing. But your old teacher was right: there isn't much we can do to stop this kind of language change. Didn't the OED recently add "LOL" as a word?

    Personally, I kind of like the playfulness of the acronyms. Af-Am Youtube comments often indicate that the viewer is "LMBAO." "WTF" is now the name of one of my favorite podcasts. A friend likes to introduce his asides with "Bee-tee-dubs?" But then I've always appreciated so-called nonstandard English, too, for what it shows me about the possibilities of language. Online acronyms strike me as just another way of tweaking the language for specific purposes.

  2. Yes, I guess I am a bit of a traditionalist in the written arena. I prefer to see prose that is lyrically beautiful, using language that is also beautiful. I think that, for me, the more casual approach is best left to emails, texts, and conversation. I love LOL and OMG and BTW as much as anyone, but would certainly not think a cover letter, a personal statement for a prospective employer, or a grant would rise to the top if compared to others where language, grammar, and punctuation is more traditional. (unless of course you were applying at Google, Ebay, or the like.

    I will NOT switch to non-contracted contractions. OMG, am I dating myself here? Having said all this, I did write a nonce sonnet in TXT language! LOL LMAO