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GTG, ROFL, NVM, OFC, YOLO, SMH – Is English Dying?

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I call myself a writer. I mean that’s what I’d like to believe I am for reasons more than one – a) I no longer have a full-time job that I can tell people of when they ask me what do I do, b) because I have been diligently writing a blog since 2016 and  c) I’ve just published my first poetry book called Roads- A Journey with Verses, in a year of me leaving my job. With these reasons, I have no reason to believe I’m delirious.

However, if the conditions for calling one a ‘writer’ is a good understanding of spoken English, a good vocabulary and ability to understand what one reads, then I’m in choppy waters.

A few recent instances have led me to this conjecture

With my book being published, I have been busy, having to get out of my comfort zone which entails sitting on a couch in my pajamas with uncombed hair tied into a bun;   talking to people about my book. While this has been mostly online by way of Fb, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Instagram, it has taken a toll on my energy reserves. And as if this weren’t enough, it is during these conversations, that I have become more aware of how out of sync I am with the current lingo. Though, I have been placating myself with the statement, ‘Its a millennial thing,’ I’m no longer too sure.

First, it starts off with the proof-reader of my book saying, ‘TBH I went through all this so I understand.’

I could not respond because I did not comprehend, ‘TBH?’

And she being a wonderful young lady apologizes for the ‘lingo’ and explains, ‘To Be Honest.’

Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, even I know this! She’s really outdated!’ Well, if you are thinking this, then congratulations to you, for being in sync with the latest lingo.

Another instance which happened 2 days later is when I checked Facebook and found a  congratulatory message on my page. It said, ‘KIU. Congrats on the book’

Well, as you guessed, I needed to refer to the ‘Online chatting dictionary for Dummies’, to translate ‘KIU,’ and it said, ‘Keep it Up.‘ So I confidently replied back with a, ‘Thank you for the wishes.’

In the recent past, when my children, entering their teens had started using acronyms, and smiled at my ‘lost’ smile, I knew I had grown old. The girls’ would then give me a hug and an indulgent smile accompanied by ‘ Mom you’re so cute’ which actually meant, ‘We love you; you’re so old and innocent.’ I accepted it willingly. In fact, I secretly loved the teenage hugs which had by far gotten fewer in number. The girls’ even offered to make me a dictionary of the new lingo which I heartily accepted. 5 years’ later, I’m still waiting, for it. The reason is, ‘We’ll have to keep updating it. Things are changing so rapidly Ma…’

What is today’s lingo?

Today’s lingo is the first letter of words put together and used so often, that it’s become language- the ‘yo’ thing.

Its’ a language that is incapable of expressing itself with just words in the dictionary but must resort to emojis to pass the message across. This is the age where emojis rule relationships. A sentence which is a string of words seems incomplete without a ‘wink,’ a ‘hug,’ a ‘smiley’ .

We are at an age where we must resort to ‘cave signs’ to communicate. Unfortunately, the ‘whatsup,’ casual slang has permeated into official emails, boardrooms and  boss-employee, employee-client relationships.

I met a friend of mine the other day who belong to the old school of thought, which was fortunate for me, because it did raise my spirits and made me feel less of an endangered species. She had come along with another friend of hers who I was meeting for the first time.

As we got talking, my friend’s friend raised the topic of today’s lingo and how disrespectful she found it, especially when it crossed the office premises; and made its’ way into official WhatsApp groups. Apparently, it had resulted in a misunderstanding in their group leading to unnecessary time spent on mending relations. Being the CEO of the company, she instantly put a stop to official communication via WhatsApp. It was her desire that I write on this topic.

HBD

As we talked, my friend expressed her distaste for acronyms like’ HBD,’ to which her daughter who is 15 and happened to be there, vehemently disagreed. She instantly asked, ‘What’s wrong if we say HBD? Its’ friendship. It saves time.’

I had to agree with the little girl’s point of view. In this age and time when it’s all about saving time, while one can’t afford to be sensitive to ‘ HBD’ or ‘Gm!’ or ‘Tc,’ there’s an appropriate place and time for language as it is for everything else.  Using the new lingo in all places , without consideration to the audience is akin to wearing beachwear to a corporate event.

How cool is Whats up?

A few months’ ago a cousin of mine who is 14 years’ younger than me and whom I have never met, sent me a message. This is how it went –

‘Hey’

‘Hi. Who is this’

‘This is Suraj. You first cousin’

‘Hello Suraj. Good to hear from you. How are you?’

‘TOTW’

‘Excuse me. I’m sorry I don’t understand. I’m old school’

‘ Top of the world’ and then there are no more messages.

Two days’ later, I get another message from the same cousin

‘Hey, What’s up?’

Though I am the friendly sort, I am not used to this kind of casual approach and I found it a trifle vexing. However, since the kid did not know me, I decided to let it go.

‘ What’s up! What do you mean?’

‘I mean what’s up at your end? How’s life?’

How do you answer a question like this by someone who does not know you or knows you because he’s just supposed to?

Most importantly what is the right length of answer to this question? Or is it just meant to be nothing more than a line? No ties kind of thing. Communication for the sake of it. A ‘time-pass’ kind of thing.

Can bonds  be built with a ‘what’s up?’

Call me ‘old-fashioned,’ ‘stuck up,’ or simply ‘old.’  Relationships involve communication that must display respect, honesty and solemnity.  I don’t think that changes with time or age. That’s my opinion.

What’s yours’? What do you think about today’s lingo and changing communication style? Do you think its’ fine to rely on Emojis so much or do you believe its’ time to resurrect the English language, the way we learnt it until the nineties?

Would love to hear your opinion on this.

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13 Comments »

  1. Haha, I laughed at this because I didn’t know what any of them meant! I understand why this way of interacting has happened, with the need to write quick text messages and the like, but I don’t think I’d ever get used to it – and certainly not at work. But I’m from a time when I used to have penfriends and we used to write actual paper letters!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, honestly neither did I. However, I have become a lot knowledgeable after this post. Ha ha. Oh, I belong to that same time Andrea which wrote handwritten letters and waited excitedly to receive letters.
      And while shortcuts maybe good, this new love for short forms is crazy. I have to keep referring to an online chat dictionary. Lol ( can’t believe I’m using one of them)😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hi smitha the emojis are really cute…sometimes you don’t hv words so they come in real handy….but not the short forms like HBD n the like. Now we are getting used to all the short forms and forgetting the real spellings which is quite bad….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes they are but they are limiting us from stressing to Express ourselves using the written word and in that way they are a handicap. And the short forms…I an just not able to keep up. And like you pointed out, it’s TRUE about the spelling so going bad. Thanks so much for sharing how you feel about this.

      Like

  3. I am also old school, Smitha. I write text messages and emails using capital letters, full stops and other punctuation. Kids can use their own abbreviated text among themselves but they need to understand that it isn’t correct language for use in business or when corresponding with older people. Fortunately, my boys attend a school at is very strict on language and communication skills. All is not lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you are Robbie. From every comment you write. I haven’t ever seen you use acronyms or emojis and I really appreciate that. Fortunately yes, my girls are not into short-cuts too while writing outside their circle of friends. But, its affecting those who haven’t had the opportunity to study in good schools and now believe this kind of communication is the in-thing. Thank you for sharing the positivity. It’s good to know, there is hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think unless one is young, one is doomed to feeling lost and alienated by all the acronyms and emojis. I hate them, and I will not use either, although fortunately I think most people I know understand that. As for the 15 year old who said what’s wrong? It saves time? I think if it is so important to save one or two seconds, then your life needs a bit of serious readjustment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with you Mick on this. I’m scared English will die if we don’t stop using emojis in every conversation. As for the acronyms, yes, those of us who belong to the previous gen, are doomed. To the 15 year old, I really did not want to make it a bone of contention. And that’s I guess the millennial. They think differently and hopefully they will change and understand. That is what we told her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most will probably change as they get older. But languages do change over time, of course. What we see today is it changing faster than previously, mainly due to the prevalence of social media and instant communication, especially these idiotic ‘influencers’, as well as rapidly changing trends in music.

        Liked by 1 person

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