GTG, ROFL, NVM, OFC, YOLO, SMH – Is English Dying?
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 this blog and c) I’ve just published my first poetry book called Roads- A Journey with Verses. 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 the 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Now you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, even I know this and oh she’s really outdated.’ Well, if you are 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 give me a hug and a smile accompanied by ‘ Mom you’re so cute’ which actually meant, ‘We love you because you’re so different. We don’t understand how you don’t understand.’ I accepted it willingly. In fact, I secretly loved the teenage hugs which were rare. They even offered to make me a dictionary of the new lingo which I accepted but 5 years’ later, I’m still waiting.
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’ .
The entire bond hangs precariously on the reciprocating, of the emoji. In the absence of a ‘heart’ or a ‘kiss,’ there is a danger of having a break-up or losing a friend or even alienating a colleague. Don’t tell me you’ve never experienced this. If you haven’t you are an enlightened soul that’s not been tainted as yet. So, congratulations! Do not ever go that way.
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 few friends the other day who belong to the old school of thought that I belong to, which was fortunate for me, because it did raise my spirits and made me feel less of an endangered species.
One of them 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 time spent on mending relations. Being the CEO of the company, she instantly put a stop to official communication via WhatsApp. It was she who wanted me to write about this topic.
The other friend who was there also chipped in to the conversation and expressed her distaste for acronyms like’ HBD,’ to which her daughter who is 15 and happened to be there, disagreed. Instantly she said, ‘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, one can’t afford to be sensitive to ‘ HBD’ or ‘Gm!’ or ‘Tc.’ However, there’s an appropriate place and time for everything and so is it for language. Using the new lingo in all places , without consideration to the audience is akin to wearing beachwear to a corporate event. Don’t you think?
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 –
‘Hi. Who is this’
‘This is Suraj. You first cousin’
‘Hello Suraj. Good to hear from you. How are you?’
‘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 find it both disrespectful and a trifle irritating. 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 officially(even if he is your blood relation)? 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 school,’ ‘stuck up,’ or simply ‘old,’ but I don’t believe this is the key to building relationships even in the new age. Relationships involve communication that must display respect, honesty and solemnity. I don’t think that changes with time or age. That’s 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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