Monday, September 20, 2010

Where have you gone, Edwin Newman?

In yesterday's Washington Post Magazine, columnist Gene Weingarten laments the demise of the English language ...

... which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.

Jeff Culbreath feels his pain, and his Facebook friends with him.

The signs are there for me whenever I engage in text messaging. I usually resort to full sentences, splitting the messages only when I have to. What does "Sal" like to do? Hailing from a nation with more texting per capita than even the USA (possibly in compensation for a less reliable national telephone system), she has no qualms about sending replies like "Wil b der n 10. Dont wry luv u." Then there's what happens when English is mixed with Tagalog (a linguistic phenomenon known as "Taglish"). The combination of her homeland's two official languages only gets worse when abbreviated in text messaging.

It's a wonder we get along as well as we do. It's probably a help that one of us has a great deal of patience -- probably her.

Of course, there are others far less reasonable than myself, if you can imagine. A priest-friend of mine, a renowned author and lecturer, does not so much as respond to such shorthand, citing it as the downfall of Western civilization as we know it. I could probably get away with mentioning his name, since he avoids reading blogs on principle.

Then again, his vast network of spies may snitch on me. Ever the crafty one, that he is!

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