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Friday, February 09, 2007

U wan frize wit dat?

This is one reason I'm so glad I don't teach high school writing. A story out of Florida reports on students writing essays and allowing “IM-speak” to creep in. These are words and phrases… no wait, excuse me, they are letters and numbers designed to REPRESENT words and phrases, or taken from another point of view, they are short bursts of spazz-finger that present teens from learning proper spelling and grammar.
b4, wat, dat, u and so on.


I have no doubt that using these shortcuts makes one able to type more in a shorter period of time. I'm sure that likewise, sticking a funnel down my throat would allow me to consume more vodka in a shorter period of time -- that doesn't necessarily mean it's an improvement.

What's even more disturbing is that some teachers seem to be supporting this movement.

“Some educators, like David Warlick, 54, of Raleigh, North Carolina, see the
young burgeoning band of instant messengers as a phenomenon that should be
celebrated. Teachers should credit their students with inventing a new language
ideal for communicating in a high-tech world, said Warlick, who has authored
three books on technology in the classroom.”

If my students invent a new language, then I probably will celebrate. But I won't be partying over the fact that people are too lazy to type an “h” to properly spell the word “what.” If you want to try a new language, go with Klingon. Though I'm not sure too many people will celebrate your accomplishments then, either. Just ask Ed U Cater.

Again, I don't have to worry too much about this from my third-graders. When they write for me, the misspellings are rampant, but completely unintentional.

I'll take a “Good jod!” over a “Wat up wid u?” any day.


Ed U. Cater said...

HIja'. My knowledge of Klingon does not help me in the "ngech" department.


rookie teacher said...

I agree ... sometimes it takes more thought to come up with a shortcut rather than to write the whole word down itself.

The only time I use shortcuts is when I'm texting using my cell.

Mister Teacher said...

It takes more thought to come up with "b4" than just to write out the word "before"??? I disagree. I just think it's lazy, pure and simple.

kontan said...

omg I gota link ta dis!

I do not mind if my students take notes in IM speak. In fact, I do encourage them to use some form of shorthand and this is all they know. However, if they ever hand in a formal writing assignment with lazy speak in it I go "click" on them, as they put it.

graycie said...

Teenagers have always used bizarre language to confound adults and other outsiders and to be cool -- that's where slang comes from. Because of technology, it's now feasible to use teen-speak in written as well as spoken language. Like kontan, I don't care what kind of short cuts are used in note-taking and pre-writing as long as finished products are in standard English. The whole point is to be appropriate to your audience.

rookie teacher said...

Well you've picked a simple example to go by ... obviously it doesn't take more thought for b4 ... but for other words it might.

And I agree that it is being lazy. It's one thing to use these short forms when messaging but another to use these in school papers.

Jane said...

I totally agree with Grayce. I could care lese how they spell text messages. But, just as we must insist on standard English in classrooms, we must insist on standard spelling.

Mister Teacher said...

Thankfully, I don't even have to deal with this with my third-graders. But what really annoys me is NOT the teenagers using this as their lingo -- it's the adults. When I'm chatting or texting with someone and they keep using these lazy shortcuts, that's what really drives me nuts.

ShortWoman said...

Right on, blogger. Maybe if somebody explained that to get a job that pays more than minimum wage they'd better be able to tell the difference between "u" and "you" they'd get a hint.

Hell, we mercilessly make fun of people who use "u" and "r" as complete words on the IRC channel where I hang out.

IMC Guy said...

Kids need to learn when to use that language/vocabulary and in school in not one of them. I recently introduced my sixth graders to their school email accounts and was amazed when I saw how they were communicating. The lack of punctuation, capital letters, and spelling was unbelievable. Now, I need to get them to realize when that writing is appropriate and when it is not.

Olivia said...

Surprisingly, this use of shortcut lingo in inappropriate contexts goes on with college students as well. One would think that by the age of 22 or so, it would just be common sense that when writing to a professor, one should use standard English. Apparently not. Several students were "pissed off" because the professor only responded to their short-cut filled emails by writing: I'm sorry but I cannot begin to understand what you are trying to communicate to me with this email. If you care to try again using standard written English, I will be more than happy to respond.