Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Writer

Among the myriad languages spoken around the world, Japanese, Gaelic, and English are said to be among the toughest for foreigners to master. Linguistically, the stereotype of the American is typified by the fact that most of us aren't fluent in a foreign tongue (indeed, we have no shortage of ways to mangle the native one) while other citizens of the world often speak a few languages out of necessity. Even my French is rusty, not having flexed those muscles in any real capacity for twenty years. Occasionally, un petit francais will work its way into the boudoir (comme ca!) when Gwen and I are playing "Victor Hugo and The Lusty Chambermaid", but rarely otherwise. As the reach of technology more rapidly exceeds our grasp, I wonder how long it will take for texting shorthand to become an unofficial addendum to the ESL curriculum. Between all the LOL's, IMHO's, ROTFL's, and WTFDYJCSOTPIOTTFAH's- the already grammatically-challenged might be further vexed. Personally, I won't write in text shorthand; despite the obvious economy of doing so, I'm way too much of a word nerd to send texts that resemble vanity license plate numbers. Nevertheless, even those of us steeped in language have yet to master all of its modern abbreviations, which might lead to starkly different messages than those intended. Case in point: until recently, my father (a generally tech-savvy cat) believed "LOL" signified "lots of love". Since my siblings and I didn't realize this, we wondered why every text he sent us seemed so snarky- "Hope you're having a great time. Mom and I miss you. LOL." I've heard of empty nesters happy to have some peace and quiet, but why the mockery? Once we figured it out, we got quite the chuckle (though not before a strangely quiet Easter dinner.) Language is fickle and subject to the whims of cultural evolution. Sometimes, it seems the less we communicate in person, the more forms we have with which to do it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like "lots of love".
It seems much more realistic than what LOL really means.

Your dad's a smart man.