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Netspeak: The New Grammar

By AnarchoCapitalist ·
Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that many youngsters (under 30), these days--and even many professional "techies" who post to the message boards of this site--can't spell or put together good sentences.

What has happened? Are these people simply products of government-run schools, or is this just some kind of new fad?

Instead of "you," a lot of people are simply typing "u," and failing to capitalize, when necessary. Also, "can't" and "don't" have become "cant" and "dont."

Speaking as a manager, I would NEVER hire/recommend someone who did not exercise decent grammar and writing skills. I feel that communication skills are extremely important, especially in technical areas.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

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You're not alone!

by lvn In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

Apparently, some people feel it's okay to ignore traditional writing standards (that's presupposing they have knowledge of any to begin with) when they create e-mails, informal memos, etc. As far as I'm concerned, when you are communicating with someone, regardless of the vehicle you use, proper spelling, grammar, etc. is essential. The way you communicate, whether it's verbal or written in nature, is a reflection not only of how much you respect the audience you are communicating with but also how much you care about the message you are trying to convey. If you are sloppy, then I personally am not going to put much credence in your message.

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by JamesRL In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

It all depends on context. In messages here, I give a little latitude. This is not Time Magazine.

I have some techs who can't spell or write well. I also have tech writers who polish any technical documentation.

I feel that communications are very important but that some roles require it more than others. Some techs don't need great grammar. Your average business analyst or project manager on the other hand must be a great communicator.


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It all depends

by TomSal In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

Because of the Internet being such a great tool for saving money on your communications needs to friends/family located all over the world -- I rely on it to keep in touch with friends who live (literally) 5,000 miles away. So what do I do, I use a chat program to keep in touch. My friend uses chat 10 times as much as I do, she has a click of people so we wind up talking.

The point being -- in casual conversations over a chat program its very VERY common to see abbreviated text. People want to shortened their keystrokes and communicate as fast as possible their thoughts. In casual (ie. "recreational") contexts I think it is fine and does not automatically deem someone as uneducated or as having poor writing skills.

Now in forums like this, I see more importance in exacting detail to accuracy and content meanwhile maintaining good grammar. That said, I am one of the WORSE offenders of mangling my words or making typos you'll ever see. Yet, believe it or not I've earned awards for writing from HS through College. I am fine when I take the time to apply myself.

I think this applies to most folks. They don't intentionally write poorly, online its all about SPEED. How fast can I throw this idea at you? How fast can I answer your question?

Most folks have the common sense to deem when presentation is critical. I'll care less about fumbling a few typos and more about speed when I'm posting on TR -- as long as my writing is good enough to communicate my thought/idea/position.

On the flip side, I care less about speed and more about presentation if I'm writing an article for a magazine, writing my resume, writing a term paper for school, etc.

To automatically judge someone flat out for making some errors on a forum or a chat room is ludicrous to me.

That all said, if the person writes consistently poorly time and again -- well yes, that is pretty sad.

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Yes and No

by maxwell edison In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

Many people use these kinds of forums in a very informal manner. I would also think that many people posting a message in a discussion group or in a live-chat window think of it differently than something more formal -- a cover letter for a resume, for instance. I think speed is the primary motivator, as people can speak faster than they can type, so they try to find ways to expedite the delivery of their message. Personally speaking, in the context of many Internet applications, I'd give such practice a free-pass and I generally don't get bothered by it -- unless, of course, it becomes so incoherent that I lose all sense of what the writer may be attempting to say. But in such cases I usually just stop trying to decipher the gibberish, and I move on to other things.

In all fairness, however, I have run across quite a few people who literally have trouble typing, perhaps because of arthritis or something similar, or because of a problem with their sight, or perhaps because they are just slow or haven't developed adequate typing skills. So I usually give a person the benefit of the doubt, and I try not to judge or criticize them for it. (Besides, as soon as I point out a person's grammatical error, someone will respond by pointing out one of mine.)

However, I tend to agree that the development of good writing skills is fast becoming a lost art. People don't write letters anymore, but instead make a phone call. Fewer people read for their information gathering, opting instead to rely on television and radio. And, I must admit, that the public school system doesn't place the same emphasis on proper writing skills as they did in the days of past. All you have to do is look at the curriculum of 1940 versus 2004, and you'll see less emphasis on such things -- much less. Moreover, holding a student back for failing to grasp a subject is almost unheard of today.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the public school system actually used to teach a person how to write properly. (This is one of the many reasons why I've made the decision to send my son to a private school that places its emphasis on academic excellence.) I have a sister who used to teach in the public school system, and she was literally fired from her position as a High School English teacher because she refused to give a passing grade to several students in her class because they couldn't read or write at even an elementary level. Yes, she threw down the gauntlet to make a point, and she was ready to face the consequences. But the bottom line was that the school system continually passed students who failed to comprehend the subject at hand. She left the teaching profession for good after that dismissal.

I'm in a position where I hire people for my company, and I'm amazed at the number of unprofessional written communications that come across my desk. Whether it be a resume and cover letter or an email from a client, the number of poor examples far outweighs the number of good ones. Generally speaking, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, on one hand I could look at it as a sad example of too many people lacking the necessary writing skills to make a good impression (or to even get their point across). On the other hand, since I try to maintain reasonably proficient writing skills myself -- regardless of the particular medium -- it becomes obvious that I have a huge advantage over most of the people against whom I may be in competition.

So do I really care about it? Well.....................

(Just kidding, of course I care about it. But on the Internet - probably not as much.)

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by maxwell edison In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar
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I hate it

by gralfus In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

I run a website where people tend to request things of me, and when they use that kind of intentional baby talk, it really causes me to look down on them. "y dont my puter play yur disk." I want to reply "Get a life you freaking drop-out! Is your keyboard broken or are you just stupid?"

I can understand doing this if you are text-messaging, but not in an email to someone you don't even know.

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Thank You!

by AnarchoCapitalist In reply to I hate it

That's exactly how I feel when I see that kind of gibberish.

I'm glad I'm not alone.

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You would love PalTalk.

by TomSal In reply to Thank You!

My god, if you ever used Paltalk your head would pop! lol.

So many "kiddies" (at least they seem like kids for all I know they could be older than me)...that talk either like a gangster or like they are 4.

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Using numbers for words - I hate it!!

by Montgomery Gator In reply to Netspeak: The New Grammar

One of my pet peeves is when people use numbers for words that are not numeric - 2 when they mean to or too, 4 when they mean for. People who do that seem semi-literate to me. Similar to using single letters for whole words. Seeing someone type "R U meeting me 4 lunch? Or U 8 already?" makes me want to scream "You Moron!!!". Another problem is confusing words, using "their" when "there" is meant, and switching "effect" with "affect". I suffer from a boss that does this but, surprisingly, is otherwise competent and educated. However, his e-mails make him look barely literate.

Thanks for letting me vent. "C U l8tr!!" (Don't that look horrible?)

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by mlandis In reply to Using numbers for words - ...

Most of those who have responded to this discussion learned to write in a manner that presumed there was time for composition and arrangement of the thoughts and ideas to be set forth on paper. We were taught to recognize that we would be measured by our writing. We wrote essays, we wrote papers and we wrote letters that were composed and planned over time.

The shorthand the kids use is a new type of writing, and is more similar to spoken language which is always changing. I agree that it is uncomfortable to my eye, but I find it ingenious. This is a written speech/code, and a new form of communication which evolved because a new means of communication is used.

Like sign language, I am sure it will also develop its own syntax and grammar. For chat rooms and IM I think it is appropriate.

For posting messages on boards and which are not instant - there is a blur. I would not use this speech/code where there is (presumably) time to think about the message being posted.

I doubt this type of writing will fully replace what we are accustomed to, because it is not meant for writing contracts, books, theses etc.

Much as I would not use it myself, I compare it to my daily vernacular speech:

Hi! Houyadoin'? Watcha doin'laytah?

to the speech I would use in a more formal environment:

Hello. How are you? What will you be doing later?

What would they write?

Hi! How r u doin' What r u doin' l8r?

Many of us speak one way, but write in a more formal style. I prefer seeing the formal/normal style, and in posting on boards, I give my age (and education) away.

I haven't seen much blurring in recognizing which kind of writing is appropriate to use for what purpose yet.


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