(This post was published in THE HINDU, Open Page, on September 17th 2011. You can view it here.)
Yes. Yes. Yes. We all know English is a very funny language. Because it’s the only language where your nose runs and your feet smell. But what has become of this language now? Especially in a country like India, where people are known to speak English well? Thanks to the SMS feature in our cell phones, people are redefining the ways in which a word can probably be spelt.
Cn u plz tke dis wid u n w8t fr sumtim der? Ey rply fst, I hve wrk.
This is how people, not just a few, but a majority send text messages (I’m not talking about Twitter, because we still have the 140 word limit). Sometimes when I get such texts from my friends, I find it difficult to resist the temptation to delete that message and not bother to leave a reply. Curbing my irritation I try not to get irritated and try to read what they could have possibly wanted to convey. And somehow I find myself getting these messages when the situation is tense.
Not all are to be blamed actually. Some people are better; they are a bit more generous with the usage of alphabets than the other stingy ones. It at least makes some sense. I heard from someone that the Letter E was the most widely used alphabet in the English language. Not anymore, is my guess.
First E, then to an extent A. What did these poor alphabets do? Huh? Seriously. My heart goes out to them. They were the post popular ones and today they hardly find a place in our texts and messages. What did they do? I want to know. As a True Citizen who abides by the Laws and Regulations of this country ,by making use of the T9 mode, and making sure that I do not miss the As and Es and other alphabets, I have the right to know why some of you are so biased against them. And for those of you who doubt me, I always make use of the T9 mode, and I will continue to use them, till my last.
When I was talking to a few people about this, I was told that earlier, people used to be charged for their texts based on the number of characters used and hence in an attempt to save as much money as possible, people started using all these short forms and found it convenient to drop vowels. That made some sense. If I belonged to that era, I would probably have done the same thing. Considering that the main purpose of this is just to communicate your thoughts. Agreed. But if you could do that without spoiling the core and essence of the language, it would be better.
These days, we have messages which can be sent free of cost, or we are charged per message. So it doesn’t make a difference if we type with a conscious effort to include all the vowels which were taken for granted. You might as well ask me, ‘If it doesn’t make a difference why can’t I stick to that I like?’ Do you realize that, If you’d been typing the way I’d pointed at the beginning, it has a direct influence on the way you right. You don’t believe me, right?
Ok. Here’s a small activity for you. Take a pen/pencil and paper and write something. Since we all have the so called ‘starting –trouble’. I’ll give you a suggestion for that as well. Write a review about a film which has touched you deeply. If I know my friends well, I’m sure a half of them reading this, would never try it in the first place, some would say that they never saw any movies which affected them, some would find it difficult to find a piece of paper and pen. Even after having found the paper, some might not be able to proceed after, One day I went to the theater and watched a film. Write about 10 lines, don’t worry about the grammar. I’ll deal with that in my next post. Just write. You find yourself using wat, der, ther, awesum, pls, oly, don’t you? This is what I was talking about. And it is not good for you.
If it so happens that the other person whom you text falls in the same category as you(stingy texts), God be with you. If the person at the receiving end is someone like me, someone who prefers not to butcher the English language, and spell the words properly, please have some consideration. You aren’t going to get a Noble prize for spelling words the way they are, right, but come on, you aren’t going to get a prize for omitting letters either.