A Facebook conversation with my niece

My niece posted something on Facebook which I couldn’t decipher. This engendered an interesting conversation. By the way, pishi means aunt on father’s side.

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HB: Nw i undrstnd hw u mst hv flt wn u sufrd d same as m sufrng nw…!!

 me:  Sweetie, I am too old to understand more than ‘u’ and ‘r’ and too ornery to to think that typing ‘dat’ instead of ‘that’ takes ‘dat’ much less time. Can you translate what you wrote there so I can read it too?

HB:  Now i understand how you must have felt when you suffered the same as i am suffering now….that is wht i said pishi….:)))

me:  Oh, OK. I knew it was something good but I didn’t get it. LOL

 me:  Why do you type like that? Is that the cool thing to do?

 HB:  habituated with it you know….i dont think dere is a single youngster nowadays who does not type weirdly like that…:))

me:  Aaaargh!! ‘dere’ ? How do you avoid typing gobbledegook in school? Oh wait, speaking to teachers here in the US I know kids even put LOL, and LMAO in essays.

HB:  that is exactly what i m tlkn about!:D  rate of spelng mstks have increased here in india..!44 minutes ago via mobile ·

me:  Set yourself apart. Allow the educated, refined, creative woman, that is hiding behind your facade of ‘coolness’ to come out. In the real world, the world of movers and shakers, an exceptional command over English, is a tremendous asset. F…rom now on, if you chat with me please use fully formed words, if you would, so that I may continue to communicate with my intelligent, well-educated niece. I use a phone to text as well, and spelling words out isn’t that hard. You can do it, darling! ::hugs::

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As an educator to two children, as an adult listening to young people around me talk, I am struck by the lack of eloquence which seems to have become entirely accepted. My daughter’s best  friend, who goes to a wonderful private school, can’t talk without using the word  ‘like’ several times in anything she talks about. That stands in stark contrast to my daughter who winces every time she catches herself using the word in that unlovely context.  Or, when I listen to other people, mostly under the age of thirty, the phrase ‘you know’ is often used as a filler or a crutch phrase . These kids don’t learn good language skills anymore and therefore have to rely on crutch words.  What a disaster !

Six years ago I hired a young woman for my company. Everyone thought I was nuts.  Hire a waitress for administrative assistant/receptionist position? Crazy,  right?! But she had people skills, and had gone to night classes to learn computer skills, She was hungry to better herself. Her language was horrendous. Very poor grammar, and her sentences augmented with ‘like’ and ‘you know’ were just the start.  We started correcting her, she started correcting herself and six years later this young woman, talks better than her relatives, and hardly ever uses the ‘crutch words.’  She still uses some faulty grammar but this young American uses better language now than, I’ll wager, most of her friends. In fact she has told me so.  Good for you girl, those skills will come in handy some day.

Teaching my kids I’ve turned into a bit of a language goon. I don’t answer ‘How are you today?’ with ‘I’m good’, nor do I tell my son ‘you’re doing good’ when I see him practising riding his bike. 

I am very well, thank you.

Tell me, do you feel frustrated at times by the abysmal language skills of people in general, or have you become desensitized?

6 responses to “A Facebook conversation with my niece

      • Yes, it can. For me it is a struggle more not to correct someone. I’ve been chewed out by one daughter for making her husband feel stupid, and my daughters who grew up in this generation of texters and facebook think I’m too antiquated for correcting them. I just keep holding on to the fact that one day they will be sorry for not making proper spelling and grammar important…especially now that their children have entered school!

  1. As long as they recognize their audience, then I can just shake my head. I get a little miffed when they continually use it in academic writing. It’s not cool and doesn’t sound smart.

    • But that is the problem, they cannot differenciate. It’s simply not ‘smart’ either spoken or written. My niece contintues to write her shorthand style, and she is at the cusp of adulthood. Soon, this young woman will need to enter the workforce and her boss will blow his or her lid the first time he or she will receive a report littered with shorthand.

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