Ey sxc, So tired atm b/c so much uni h/w 2 do. H8 it! Wish cul hav holz sooner! G2g but ttyl, ;) Nat
If you aren't between the ages of 12 and 24, chances are that the above message seems incomprehensible... Translation: Hi sexy, I'm so tired at the moment because I have so much homework from university to do. I hate it! I wish the holidays would come sooner. I've got to go, but I'll talk to you later, Nat
More easily understood? Perhaps... but seeing as that number of characters is unlikely to fit into one SMS, saving the 22cents incurred by splitting the above over 2 messages takes priority. We are a society - more specifically, a generation - driven by technology, gadgets and the hip-pocket nerve. Consequently, our rapid life-style necessitates quicker means of communication. Parents are already exasperated with the all too-familiar sight of their teenager having a mobile phone permanently soldered to their 'Bettina' or 'Levi'-clad hips. If not 'mobile mania', then it's a stable attachment to the computer mouse and keyboard. Having similarly unintelligible, online conversations with their friends (who they have more often than not seen that day) have exacerbated the disintegration of vital language skills needed for life as an adult.
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Older generations can blame linguistic laziness on globalisation, consumerism, technological rebellion and/or the collapse of Communism, but dealing with communication deficiencies in today's youth will not be solved by pointing fingers. Already, the Howard Government's proposals to 'simplify' Year 12 English, reignited calls by parents, teachers and even students to reaffirm the importance of basic written and oral communication skills. Language Wars: Attack of the Valley Girl
The erosion of language skills and the influence of pervasive pop culture in the past decade are not mutually exclusive phenomena. On the contrary, they have become closely associated aspects of modern society. American mannerisms have plagued language since the advent of the 'Valley Girl' phenomenon in the 80s. Peppering everyday speech with the word 'like'
, helped advance lazy adolescent tendencies. By providing a replacement for ums, ahs and pauses, phrases such as "I was like, 'I can't believe you, like, said that!' and then she was like, so upset" continue to grace daily discourse. Frustratingly, the frequency of using these 'fillers' continues to increase; increasingly, teenagers are subconsciously speaking with these irksome mannerisms.
The advent of 'Instant Messaging' and chat programs such as MSN Messenger™, Yahoo! Chat™ and ICQ™ has extended verbal laziness into written indifference. Phrases such as g2g
(got to go), brb
(be right back), ttyl
(talk to you later) and lol
(laugh out loud) began as a means of allowing chat users to have multiple conversations, without the 'burden' of writing out full sentences. Hailed as increasing the efficiency of on-line communication, it didn't take long for such terminology to flourish on a global level. Gr8....so wat's da prob?
This complex problem however, presents itself as two-fold. Firstly, given that computers have become a necessity in the average home, the accessibility and user-friendly nature of such programs has meant that a large proportion of young teenagers downloads and uses programs such as Messenger™., for large periods of time. Harsh critics constantly affirm that a nation with an obesity epidemic and questionable literacy levels needs to deal with the excessive use of technology in response to both health and educational issues.
The second, if not more pressing problem in terms of literacy and linguistics, is the use of online shorthand in academic situations such as exams or essay-writing exercises. Not only has there been a reduction in the number of hours spent studying or doing physical activity been reduced drastically as a result of television and the Internet, but academically, literacy levels are dangerously decreasing. Teenagers involuntarily become accustomed to the abovementioned phrases, as well as becoming dependant on the use of emoticons
to express emotions. Emoticons
are small pictures/icons used in order to depict different emotions -more often than not referred to as Smileys
. The ability to use icons to represent different sentiments reduces the need to adequately express emotions or thoughts through vocabulary, tone and expression. This significantly hinders the individual's ability to effectively express themselves in situations when they do not have the 'luxury' of small pictures in their Tool Bar. For struggling students in such situations, the lack of preparation or capacity to adequately deal with writing analytical or creative essays. The result? 'In the end, both Romeo and Juliet died
' . Funnily enough, so did half a dozen English teachers. Dis prob has g2g!
There is not one simple resolution to the unrelenting degradation of verbal and oral communication within today's youth. Recently, social tendencies have been towards advocating a reduction in the use of televisions and computers - especially given the health and educational ramifications. Furthermore, literacy programs within schools are becoming more flexible and reactive to modern, technological advancements. This is exemplified in the 2005 Victorian Year 12 English examination; the exam entailed analysing the effects of SMS Messaging on romance and relationships. Accepting the reality that the Internet and SMS are both steadfast features of this era need not reduce attempts to improve the linguistic abilities of teenagers. Rather, it requires society and the Government to consider new, innovative methods of assisting students in reaching their potential.