Punctuation is your friend

December 28, 2010

 zomg idk why i dont type lyk this alda time lol.

Actually, I do know. This abuse of proper English is one of the more annoying consequences of living in the “Internet Age.” I occasionally go on forums, and I used instant messenger when it was still a novelty. Thus, although most of my cyber-wanderings bring me to the sheltering arms of  good English, from time to time I do run into grammatical atrocities that sacrifice proper spelling for convenience.

When used in text messaging, I don’t like it, but I understand it. Those phones have tiny little keypads, and if you’ve got an older phone, it can be a hassle to jab at the same button multiple times just to get to the letter “c.” When your fingers are turning blue, it makes sense to condense communication to “where r u?” (Even if a tiny part of me whimpers whenever I do so.)

Even online, I’m tolerant depending on context. To be honest, I kind of expect a Justin Bieber fan forum to contain a few messages along the lines of “omgomgomgomg jbiebs iz soooooo HAWT!”

Not that I would actually know, of course.

No, for me, the problem comes when the abbreviations and misspellings seep into contexts in which good English is expected. I have been on writing forums that have featured posts like, “so like i dont no if my character is belivable, lol. can sum1 help plz?”

And my head thuds into my desk.  

I truly believe that if you want to write, then no one should stop you. You should write to your little heart’s content, and I will sit here and support you. Better yet, I will jump up and down with pompoms. However. If you are in a context in which the proper use of English is expected, you should at least follow basic conventions. Heck, I won’t even mind a comma splice, so long as you show that you’re willing to take the time to type “someone,” rather than “sum1.”

Would you send a query letter that was written this way? I say this with a shudder, but  would you submit a manuscript that did not reflect your very best use of language?

It happens in academia, too. I’m not quite sure how, but it does. Apparently, people actually do hand in essays that lack proper punctuation and contain truncated words. Again, depending on context, I could forgive omg and lol online, but they have no place in academic writing.

Like all languages, English has evolved and changed. However, I think there is a difference between evolution and degeneration.




  1. I agree with you here. My 18-year old daughter had a rather typical teenager-hood, but I am grateful that she made an effort to maintain decent English in her texting (something we insisted upon). There was no way I was going to translate all that crap!

  2. I agree!!!

    I’m a user of “text-talk” because it’s just practical… in text messages only. Secretaries use short hand, and we don’t down on them. We realize that tere is a need to break away from the standard.

    But to push text-talk to academic paper (or forums) is a sin against language. Just wait until the Obama uses “lol” in a speech!

  3. Great post. I agree with you.

    When using a cell phone to text, abbreviations make sense. When sitting at the computer, with a full keyboard at your disposal, type it out!

  4. Text messaging aside, I get upset when I catch common little errors in printed English, especially own stupid mistakes. Last week a reader pointed out how I mixed up “their” and “they’re” . WHAT?! I was incredulous, and had no one to blame but myself. Fool of a Took!

    My other peeves are “a lot” and “alot” Alot is not a word. “Effect” and “affect” is another great one. And I have personally mixed up “shoot” and “chute” in a story I submitted to a magazine. Talk about chagrin.

    Anyway, great automated post. Who knew your computer could right as well as you? Joking, joking!

    — david j.

    • Well, I do a fair bit of blogging from my iPod, so I suppose it deserves some credit, too. 😉

  5. I am an English teacher as well as a writer, so I do get the essays with “u” and “omg” and like you, I die a little inside when I read them. I mark on them with my green pen (I can’t use red…long story) and want to just scream NO! NO! NO! but I calmly put “not appropriate in essays.”
    I have friends that won’t email me because they think that I will correct them and send it back (I would NEVER send it back…).
    I am one of the most grammatically correct texters I know…and it annoys most people.
    Your post let me know I’m not the only one twitching…and I thank you for it!

    • I wouldn’t send an email back either, but I have been known to squirm when relatives say they’re “doing good.” Not in a philanthropic sense, but as in “doing well.”
      Slowly learning I’m not alone on this has helped tremendously! 🙂

  6. I have several friends that are professors and I’m going to be starting a job teaching online for Grand Canyon University in the next few weeks. I’m excited about it but I also dread these kinds of essays.

    • Just know that you are not alone!!! It is what keeps me from causing permanent damage to things or people.

    • Congrats on the job! Good luck reading the essays, too… Hopefully the good ones will outweigh the bad, and the bad ones will just be kind of amusing. 😛

  7. I love Yahoo Answers/Books and Authors. I love seeing the writing dilemmas people come up with and the questions that make me stop and think. However, when someone posts a question about writing, written like you describe above, I pass on answering. Why should I put time into a thoughtful and hopefully helpful answer when the author can’t put time into a correctly spelled and/or written out question? I find the ‘internet language’ irritating in that context, because in order to be taken seriously, the person should appear serious. My opinion anyway for what it’s worth. P.S. This doesn’t include honest mistakes, of which I make all the time!

  8. Amen, my friend. Amen.

    Although, there are many folks out there who do not share your grasp of the English language, so do be kind to them. I feel quite bad for young people today because they don’t learn how to write properly before they’re inundated with internet slang; they really don’t stand a chance.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: