Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BBC News - How the internet is changing language

A trash can in Seattle labeling "trash&qu...Image via WikipediaMaybe the times are really a-changin', because when I was a child it was completely forbidden to mix-up languages. Our teachers would downright scream at us if we for example were speaking Spanish and (out of laziness) used an English word when there was a Spanish one available. All languages borrow words from others, for example Spanish has a lot of Arabic-influenced words but these had been official additions to the language, so it was acceptable. 

Higher in the getting yelled a phase was Spanglish, which I find so irritating because I spent years learning proper English. 99% of the Spanglish that we run into is more a direct result of laziness than lack of proper knowledge of the language. 

What we are having now is even worse. I am not even worried about people saying "google" instead of search (ask Xerox about this), the problem is that people are getting too sloppy with their writing, because they don't understand context. Just because it is OK to use SMS shorthand when texting your family and/or friends doesn't mean you can do this when sending out work emails to your customers. Hell, even to your coworkers it is a big no-no.

We have customers that can't communicate in full sentences. These are highly intelligent, articulate and professional people, not idiots, yet they can't write! It takes a lot of tact and patience to deal with these people because we can't simply tell them "hey, I can't tell what you are asking me because you can't write!" It is almost as if they think that they are still in college and feel it is OK to address somebody in an email as "Hey! ..."

My teachers would reply "hay is what farm animals eat."