The Bane of My Existence: Misspelled Texts from Teens

10 01 2011

I woke up yesterday, with just one word in my mind.

You’ll never guess what the word was. Seriously.

Bombastic.

Yep. Bombastic.

Upon thinking of that word, my imagination was instantly captured with images of my high school band director waving his baton madly and urging us to make our fanfare “more bombastic–more, more!”

At the risk of sounding smug, I’d urge you to get out a dictionary and look up the word if you don’t know what it means. I say this only because I’d truly feel guilty for aiding the further decay of the English language by feeding you a definition that you can clearly find yourself.

It’s the same guilty feeling I get when I accidentally mistype a word or forget to use proper punctuation when I’m texting teenagers. Of course, I always spell check when I’m texting my parents (both were imbued with impeccable grammar and spelling talents, which luckily were passed on to me–making that elusive AP English A+ entirely possible in high school. Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

However fanatical I may be regarding my own communication standards, though, it is not usually reciprocated by anyone else (save my aforementioned parents).

Sometimes, I’ll get texts from kids that are pretty darn near unintelligible. It’s the bane of my existence. Take this one, that I received on New Year’s Eve from a ninth-grader:

“Hsappoy nerw ytere!nl”

In Teen-Speak, that translates to “Happy new year!”

My immediate response? “I hope you aren’t drunk.”

The text I received back in the next instant?

“Qwht? Olmg uyr siooo funnmuy!?!”

Translation: “What? OMG, you’re so funny!”

Or, this exchange that took place just a few days ago:

Unnamed student: “i have a horse voice”

Me: “You mean a ‘hoarse’ voice.”

Student: “i cant spell…you know that.”

Me: “You need an English tutor. Probably me, to be more accurate.”

I recently attended a friend’s wedding, where I reconnected with an old college classmate who’s now working as an English teacher at an exclusive high school in Texas. Together, we bemoaned the fact that our favorite subject is being neglected in schools nationwide. As we left, we urged each other to continue to “fight the good fight” and preserve a high standard of proper grammar for future generations.

Yes, I know…you probably think I’m insane. Truthfully, it’s not that I’m so uptight that I get angry–I’m more dismayed that people don’t want to continually further their intelligence.

I’m now three years beyond college graduation, where my “formal education” came to an end. However, that wasn’t the day I stopped learning. To me, that means I am charged with vigorously disciplining myself to read even more voraciously.

I recently finished reading Babbitt, an iconic American work by Sinclair Lewis. And holy cow, even as a lifetime reader (one who devoured Gone With the Wind in three days as a 12-year-old, I might add), I had to look up nearly two dozen words that I had never even heard of in the course of reading that book.

But guess who now has two dozen more words to add to her vocabulary?

While I may never receive those properly spelled texts from my teens, at least I know that The Scarlet Letter is on their required reading list for high school. When I consider that, I feel a little less convinced that the world is going to…

Well…

Look it up.

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