Linguistics and Cyber Kids

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Among my peers I’ve always been the last to embrace any technology. It wasn’t planned, yet it happened that way, always. While I decided to enter into Orkut, and finally did so, one of my pal commented, “While everyone is clearing their tent in Orkut and busy migrating to Facebook, you are here at last”. In his welcome note which he scraped he had written ‘Welcome and Goodbye!’

Before stepping into the cyber space, it was the cell phone. Like always I was the last one to get my hands on a cell phone. More than anything else it had to offer I was impressed with the short messages @ SMS. Perhaps it was because of my love for words. Whatsoever, I sent messages from my new number to all my buddies, which was readily acknowledged. The problem wasn’t there recognizing me but with the replies those I had received. One of my college mates was the first to respond and her message read like this ‘Grt. h r u ?’

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I was amused reading it then. (Now I’m quite accustomed to this twisted tech- lingua franca) I couldn’t decipher anything meaningful from it. I had no choice but to message her again, revealing my naiveness. After a smile- well her reply began with a smiley- she helped me to understand this SMS language. Even now though I’m very well acquainted with this much simplified, grammar-free, language with words taking their autonomous spellings, I abstain myself from using them, though not deliberately. I’m still my friends’ favorite subject of mockery for using proper English in my written communication. “You’re of a rare stone-age breed who text with proper punctuated English”, they all tease me in one voice.

English language, hailed as the global communicative language, the one that developed from an Anglo-Saxon dialect a thousand years ago, has seen many ups and downs. More than anything else, the unquenchable colonial thirsts of the Brits had helped the language to sit on million tongues. But the sustenance of the language, I observe, is not just by the words that it invents but also the words it embraces with open arms, from other languages.

While the purists of other languages see English as a threat to their mother tongue, purists of English themselves are alarming about the decay of their language, chiefly due to the wide usage of the language in a twisted fashion in texting.

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The kids of this digital era hardly know the proper spellings for words of common usage, though they are quite trouble free speaking the same. The technological advancements had reduced the opportunities of writing as there are many other easy options to communicate with each other. Besides there are umpteen number of digital assistance- one could have easy access with- while the necessity of writing arises (I include myself with this).

A recent survey result which I stumbled upon in a daily during casual reading captured my attention at once. It was a report on study of linguistic efficiency of Britons college students. The task was simple; as simple as spelling-bee stuff. The subjects were asked to write down the spellings of simple words, commonly used in daily life. Shockingly majority of the pupils were found to be unable to write the correct spelling of words as simple as ‘college’ (Yeah! You read it right).

The digital revolution has morphed this generation into ‘video generation’. Rather than reading they prefer to passively watch a video clip to know anything. There is a phenomenal shift in the reading habits of US teens and pupils read less.

To save a language the best mean is to promote reading. Reading not only familiarizes the language to the reader but also kindles their thought and enhances their imagination. This, in my view, is the most beautiful chain reaction that could happen.

 

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