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David Crystal's 2b or not 2b: The Decay of English as a Language

By peterneubauer Dec 05, 2012 1009 Words
Assignment 1: 2b or not 2b

As years are passing and our world is changing, so has our language and the way we communicate. This is the topic David Crystal had approached with his essay “2b or not 2b”. He is depicting views of various professors and researches on how texting with mobile phones has lead to the decay of English as a Language. Throughout the text David Crystal shows his own opinion and how his’s differs from the other ones. People used to handwrite letters or books like novels to express their thoughts, it was an essential skill to communicate. But today, in a world filled with computers and keyboards and various applications like Microsoft Office to facilitate our writing and even correct our errors, do we really need to know how to write properly anymore? In the modern world where we use our phones and messages to communicate with the least amount of effort, short and concise text to get to the point regardless of punctuation, grammar nor orthography. In a fast living world where everybody seems to have less time, is there really room for linguistic?

According to John Humphrey, a newspaper author mentioned in Crystals essay, texting is ruining our Language. Ever since the mobile phone was introduced and along with the way to communicate with messages, companies have been using this invention to make the most profit of it by developing the Global System for Mobile Communications Network in the mid 1980’s. Messages at that time had a limited amount of characters, so the message people are trying to forward had to be short and concise. There was no room for orthography nor grammar. The beginning of SMS, short message service. Texting as a trend rocketed in the 21st century and a new creative style of writing has emerged. Not only that people have been using abbreviations to

forward the main point of the message, they also started to use this form of communication for entertainment purposes. Using rebuses like replacing single characters for words, like “2” for “to” or “b” for “be” (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 338), or puzzles like Crystals essay shows, “YY U R YY U B I C U R YY 4 ME” (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 338) people developed a new way to use the media for their amusement. More and more teenagers are following this trend and even children are exposed to it, which is the problem many professors are addressing. However, David Crystal is not agreeing with the majority, he states, that it rather “helps than hinders literacy” (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 337). He also argues that even though a lot of grammar and general linguistic rules are often broken, the messages are still understandable. And isn’t that the point? Furthermore, the longer the messages become the less linguistic errors occur.

Studies have shown that less than 20% of Americans are using abbreviations, symbols and single letters to replace words (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 337-338) In fact, this so called problem is not new. People have been solving puzzles and riddles in newspapers using this structure of text in the 19th century. English has a lot of abbreviation words ever since it began to be written down. A different approach David Crystal is bringing up, is that author are using “textism” to write poems, short-stories or even novels. But the mobile phone is limiting the capabilities of this new found style. So authors craved for a platform with more expressive power. Therefore, “textism” moved to the PC where people have more possibilities like color, font, type-size and shape. This shows creativity for the English language (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 344). And isn’t that just a development of Language? Like Languages have always evolved and changed

over time? At the same time, increasing evidence from different researches, form a team at Coventry University, came to the conclusion that texting does not effect children’s ability to write or read. Instead, it improves. One of the researches show that the more abbreviations they use, the better is their grade in test’s on reading and vocabulary. This research also states that the younger the age is, where they get their first phones, the better their skills in linguistic (2b or not 2b, David Crystal, 345). The main argument is that children could not be good at texting if they had not already developed a secure considerable literacy awareness, hence children who are able to use this kind of communication style already have a sense of how the language works and sounds. David Crystal isolates himself clearly from other authors or professors by not sharing the same opinion. And this essay depicts it coherently.

I think that it is true that English as a Language is changing and its not going to be the same as it was. but is that a bad thing? Personally. I think that this change is natural like everything changes over time. Development is consistent, and so is the development of language. According to John Sutherland, a professor of University College London, “textism” is poor spelling and mental laziness ( 2b or not 2b, David Crystal 335 ). And they are declaring texting as a new form of extinguishing the Language. But is that really new? Like David Crystal previously mentioned in his essay, abbreviations have always been around. In fact not even more than a 5th of americans are making use of it. and less are in other countries like Norwegian (2b or not 2b, David Crystal 338). I am agreeing with David Crystal, “textism” is more a enrichment than a loose of Language, “it is merely the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative

and to adopt language to suit the demand of diverse settings” (2b or not 2b, David Crystal 345). English as a Language will not become extinct, it just changes and adopt to its surroundings. This new style of communicating is moreover the heritage of our Generation.

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