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What English could look like

Posted: Friday, Jul 19th, 2013

The world is ever evolving. Language is ever evolving.

Part of my undergraduate degree required that I take and pass an English grammar course. Of the many things I learned in that class I learned that language is always changing. New words come into our lexicon every year; our syntax and construction of sentences changes daily.

For the most part, however, when written down in a book, magazine, academic paper, professional document, or newspaper article the English language is more reticent to change. Writing, unlike speaking, takes much longer to change because it is more proper or less conversational.

Yet, in today’s world the written language seems to change faster than not.

Because of our constant use of websites like Facebook and Twitter and our addiction to texting, our writing is beginning to look more like our speaking – like it or not.

The future of the written English word will probably look very different than the writing in this column or in the current book you might be enjoying. So, let’s take a look at what might be.

First, though, we must remember a few things. Instead of worrying about spelling and punctuation, we must worry about how many characters are present, if the subject is trending, and if a number or symbol might be more appropriate than a full word.

Knowing this, let’s take a look at a hypothetical news story 20 years from now:

2day @PresidentZuckerburg announced plan to #createnewjobs n USA. An 8 member committee meets 2nite 2 discuss details.

@PresidentZuckerburg announced the news n wake of @SenMcCain’s (yes he’s still around) urging 4 lower the #unemploymentrate.

“This is a gr8 plan for the US,” @PresidentZuckerburg said on his Facebook wall. “We want all ‘Mericans to BRB to work.”

When asked about @PresidentZuckerburg’s plan, @SenMcCain only LOL and wlkd to his office saying, “@PresidentZucherburg u just dnt get it!”

Supporters of @PresidentZuckerburug’s plan call it an #opportunityforeveryone, citing #bipartisanship and #traditionalvalues.

The opposition called the plan #useless and #misleadingthepeople, which sets up a looming battle in @USSenate and @USHouseofReps.

This small portion of what could be is only an illustration of what the English language looks like to young people like me. There are many abbreviations, misused punctuations, symbols, and numbers that I did not show here simply because it’s either too painful to think about or even I am not aware of them.

Some generations are known for their poetic prose, colorful descriptions, and simple, yet detailed use of the English language.

I envy Hemmingway because he was able to do more with less when writing. He did it not because he used symbols or numbers or extreme abbreviations. He did it because he knew how to craft beauty and create emotion with words. He mastered the short sentence because he had a vocabulary that allowed it; not a lazy pen that needed and ‘8’ to write the word ‘great’ or ‘n’ or ‘u’ in place of ‘in’ and ‘you.’

My generation might be labeled as the generation that killed the English language. I fear for what might come because Twitter, Facebook and texting. This might become a country fraught with misspellings, no punctuation, and an alphabet that looks more like $&!t.

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