TED Conversations

Cassandra Smith

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Has the ability to spell declined in Western countries? Has "text speak" destroyed a generation?

Based on my online presence, I feel there is a huge decline in the use of basic spelling. When people use "war" instead of "what" is one that drives me crazy. This excludes when people can't use the correct version of "your/you're".

Am I the only one that this drives crazy?
What has caused this, and does this translate into workplaces and schools?

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    Feb 23 2014: For a different point of view about texting, here is a popular talk (over one million views) from last year's TED Conference: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_mcwhorter_txtng_is_killing_language_jk.html
  • Feb 28 2014: The 'proper English' we speak now is slang compared to where it came from. Language will continue to change. We live in a digital world of instant everything, our language has to keep up. From the way people behave socially we might not even need to speak eventually. With texting, chatting or social media - who needs to talk? (I don't look forward to that day) Here's a great video on the history of the English language.

    YouTube: http://youtu.be/rexKqvgPVuA
    Originals: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/english-language/the-history-english-ten-minutes?track=378501f80b
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    Feb 27 2014: Methinks "destroyed" is pretty strong language. In fact language is always changing, one only needs to look at all the local dialects of "English" that are practiced by their adherents never mind all the local dialects of various languages in the world. Every generation has its own variations of their parent language only we used to call it slang.

    In fact, I am often surprised and even intrigued at the variations some texters have come up with. I agree that it can get too thick and over used to the point of being incomprehensible to most. But so are some of the thick brogues and accents put on the English language through local dialects.
  • Feb 25 2014: Growing up, I spoke a language at home, proper English in school and at work, and street talk almost everywhere else. Some will eventually "bleed" into normal usage but that is the way of languages. I guess it does not drive me crazy.
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    Feb 24 2014: I don't believe that text speak is harmful, but I refuse to use it myself. It's not very much more trouble to communicate well and clearly.

    By the way, what drives me crazy the most in my online presence is the persistent misspellings of 'retarted' and 'rediculous.'
  • Feb 24 2014: WTF? IDK. LOL!
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    Feb 24 2014: Yeep. It are not good as shoulda be. Butt if yr kidd snd a noat that say " hep i in toble .. felld in a hoole". Wold u corect it or go hep?
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      Feb 24 2014: This post, Bob, makes me miss Edward. We had a thread about six months ago that I think he launched about various aspects of non-standard spelling and the effectiveness with which people can communicate using non-standard spelling.
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        Feb 24 2014: Me to. Time to check in and see if he has "landed" yet.
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        Feb 24 2014: Just heard back from Edward. All is well and sends his regards.

        Bob.
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    Feb 24 2014: To tell the truth (a rarity in our generation) I believe the younger generation is quite pleased in the communication gap and hoping to widen it wherever possible. It may just be the saving grace of the human race.
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    Feb 24 2014: Bad grammar and spelling is annoying. I believe when we communicate, we should take the time to make certain it is intelligible. As I say that, I expect some readers to argue that they can read txt short hand very well. I suspect that, in some cases, that argument is valid.

    I believe that proper communication is learned through practice. Using one method for informal texting and another for resumes and business communication is asking for trouble.
  • Feb 23 2014: I don't think so, actually.
    People often don't bother to spell while texting, but it usually doesn't carry over to anything they write through some other means. Sort of like how a note a student passes in class isn't written in the same way as his test is.