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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Do You Understand What I’m Saying? Beware of Authorspeak!


Technology has certainly impacted communication capabilities over the centuries.  The invention of printing presses, telephone, radio, television, and computers has certainly altered how information is gathered, stored, and shared.  The internet would be the most recent – but not the last – significant invention to influence the exchange of ideas and information.  How is today’s technology impacting language, from word creation and usage to how we hear or understand what is being said?

It seems that we should conclude the following, that as a result of digital communications, we now can:

·         Transmit info anywhere across the globe in a matter of seconds
·         Use unlimited space to convey a message – no longer limited by time (i.e. TV broadcast) or physical space (paper).
·         Allow anyone to take center stage without needing to get past a gatekeeper or authoritative media outlet
·         Use citizen journalists and self-published authors to counter the established media and publishers

It also seems there are many pitfalls, including these:

·         There’s a digital divide – the majority of global citizens still don’t log onto the internet
·         No record is safe from hacking and manipulation
·         Fake news stories can be passed off as legitimate
·         With everyone crowdsourcing news and information, the centralization or authoritative sourcing of materials is degraded

We’re missing an editor for the Internet.  No one is there to double-check spelling, facts, grammar, punctuation, syntax, capitalization, or word usage.  Blogs, websites, emails, and social media postings are ruining the English language with its made-up words, misuse of words, short-handing of everything, and its poor substitution of symbols for words, Netspeak (LMAO), and the lack of complete sentences.  Net communication is brief, fragmented, and often so poorly structured that recipients could read a communication and think that the sender’s intention is actually the opposite of what was stated.

The Twitterization of language and communication is awful.  Our communications lack depth and completeness.  Or worse, we can’t summarize properly and lazily hand over a link to something rather than say what it’s about.  We just endlessly click, click, click – but we don’t always seem to say anything substantively. 

We treat communications as something we do to fill in an idle moment – waiting on line, going to the bathroom, sitting on a bus or train, during a commercial break, or while multi-tasking.  People used to give thought to what they’ll write.  They’d pause to edit it and reflect.  We now press send before we double-check to make sure we didn’t mistype any words.

Language is under attack.  It happens in waves, overtime.  For instance, when immigrants come in clusters, English gets abused.  It happens when major events or technologies come about and new words and terms are needed to keep up.  It happens within regions and groups.  Ebonics, Spanglish, and now Netspeak are the more recent causations for the bastardization of our language.  Then you have the PC police looking to sanitize words beyond recognition.  As you can see, there’s an ongoing assault on our language that is taking a toll on how we communicate with each other.

But the biggest problem may come from our schools.  Our education system fails to produce graduates who can write well, speak effectively, and master all aspects of the English Language.  With fewer people left to correct those not in the know, combined with those who should know better but fall into the fashion of the day, we leave our language vulnerable to misuse, abuse, distortion, and confusion.

On the other hand, language is not static nor permanent.  It reflects our society and bends to reflect who we are.  Sure, at any given time there are rules and standards that we need to adhere to or we will have illiteracy all around us, but we will need to be more tolerant of gyrations in the world of language.  For all we know, all of this worry over English could be moot.  Based on birth and immigration patterns, we could be a Spanish-speaking nation by the end of the century.  Or, if China continues to grow, we’ll all be speaking Mandarin.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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