Language is constantly evolving around us. For an example, just compare modern English with the language of fifty years ago. While the core of English has not changed, popular terms and phrases are completely different. These days, referring to something as ‘nifty’ would seem foolish. Our language is in the midst of a huge upheaval as it changes from being primarily speech based to being text focused. In 2b or not 2b, David Crystal argues that this is a positive change. I am not inclined to agree. Txt Speak, as I will refer to it, is nothing but a threat to the English language and society as a whole.
Let us begin by examining language as a whole, and it’s role in society. At it’s core, language is a way of expressing information. Theoretically, any message transmitted can be considered a language. Language could easily have evolved from something as simple as a series of grunts to warn about a horde of wolves. As language evolves, more and more complicated ideas can be expressed. One might argue that the most important part of a language, however, is how well it can express information to a broad spectrum of people; No matter how well one can express themselves in a language, if no one can understand it then the language is useless. I believe wholeheartedly that txt speak will, if left unchecked, cause the downfall of society.
Why, you might ask, is one language more dangerous then others? In his article ‘I H8 TXT MSGS’, John Humphrys states that the onslaught of simplified, shorthand language is “Destroying (English): pillaging our punctuation; savaging our sentences; raping our vocabulary.” I disagree with this idea: A language is not inherently bad because it is simple- rather the opposite. A simple language can be understood by anyone instead of being reserved for the elite. There is, however, a key point to be caught which lies at the core of txt speak; how we abbreviate.
Think of the sentence “I would enjoy a cup of coffee, what would you prefer?” While a bit more eloquent, it is unwieldy. Two key points of information are being provided: “Coffee=good, What do you want?” This sentence, in a more modern wording, could express the same information as: “Coffee for me, WBU?” This is a perfectly natural evolution of language; while it may sound a bit more crass, the same information is being shared in less then half the words. Abbreviations exist purely to convey information in a more pure form, lessening the amount of words used will not harm the integrity of English. (In fact, the English language is a mess and could really use repairs) In the book 1984 by George Orwell, a new language called ‘Newspeak’ plays a major role. To quote the inventor “In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words – in reality, only one word.” This new language form at first seems shocking but, in fact, is no different from the direction language is now moving.