Sunday, March 4, 2012

What impression do you create when you use "SMS lingo"?

Here are snatches from a conversation thread I was privileged to read on Facebook some time ago (actually you can see similar posts and comments written in similar inelegant language on Facebook and on Twitter every day):

cos thedy r idiot



who is sayng xctly! som1 coming frm d same list..

What balderdash is this?

I have never felt the need to use so-called SMS lingo... not even when I am writing an SMS (why do you think our mobiles come with a T9, or dictionary, feature?). For one, I am never so pressed for time that I cannot give some thought to articulating my thoughts. And second, I get the heebie-jeebies when I have to read an illiterate text message or Facebook post or comment.

That is why I was pleased to see a short piece titled "Inelegant language illiterate impression" by Srijana Mitra Das on the the edit page of The Times of India yesterday. "A clear connection," Mitra Das writes, "certainly exists between poor vocabulary used in text messaging and poor linguistic skills overall not to mention a poor impression accompanying messages from such writers."

If these people do not even have time to spell words correctly, argues Mitra Das, if they are so "terrifically busy", how will they ever make time for books? "Obviously, their grammatical growth and literary vibrancy will be stunted," she says.

And then she delivers the coup de grĂ¢ce:

Texts that say "hv snt rpt" instead of "I have sent you my report" make you think of someone coming to work wearing crumpled clothes and a bad attitude — sloppy, unconcerned.... Even between friends, poorly worded texts — "hw abt tht flm" — don't sound cool. They sound illiterate.

My sentiments exactly.

PS: My tolerance levels for illiterate posts on Facebook are dangerously low nowadays. So low that I have begun unsubscribing from activity stories, comments and likes, and even status updates of people whose inelegant language drives me nuts. Does that make me a bad person?