The fast food of communication, today’s tweets, texts, and social media posts often tout alphabet letters standing in as imposters for whole words and intentionally misspelled words like thnx instead of thanks. Fond of shortcuts, today’s digital kids rarely text a complete sentence, such as “Are you okay?” Instead, they would use their thumbs to key in “r u k?” Sounds Neanderthal in a way, or at the minimum, similar to what the Greeks called Phonography— sound writing—where vowels were optional with only consonants needed to determine a word.
Speed is the name of the game: Instant messaging, speed dialing, and instant gratification. Pair this with the challenge of keying in words from micro-keyboards and it makes sense for how shorthand became the norm for texting.
And then along came Twitter, a networking platform to connect with others in bird chirping fashion. Enter the 140 characters.
Is this all bad?
No, not if it’s used properly.
Public posts on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, are permanent, remaining on the Internet forever. Wide networks of people, including employers and future employers, have access to these posts and can see one’s use of the English language. The argument could be made that this would encourage use of excellent grammar and give rise to posts exhibiting proper-grammar smorgasbords. On the contrary, grammar is on life support, relegated to the basement.
What does this brevity of expression so rampant in the mobile-messaging wave mean for the future of grammar? In the business world and social circles, people are still judged by how they speak and write. Literacy image still carries enormous weight. Yet, the “cool factor” of communicating fluently in hashtag speak, the fashionable mobile-device runway today’s kids pose and strut on everyday, cannot be ignored.
For self-esteem, it’s important for kids to fit in, at least somewhat, with this world-wide trend. What can parents do to enable their kids to be successful in future career and social ventures while enjoying the cool factor now?
1) Family Blog: Select a blog topic once a month, one that interests your family and has appeal to the appropriate age ranges within your family. One night a week, have each family member contribute two sentences or a short paragraph that exhibits perfect grammar. Encourage complex sentences that are punctuated properly.
2) Family Game Night: Host a “Spelling Bee” with prizes for winners.
3) Family Dinner Conversations: In the middle of the table, place a bowl filled with tweets or texts messages. Family members can choose one to read and then discuss examples by translating into a complete sentence with appropriate adjectives and adverbs.
4) Family Gratitude: “I am grateful for…” Whether electronic or handwritten, require kids write two short gratitude messages a month to family members: parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Messages should include abbreviated hashtag versions and translations written in complete sentences with correct spelling and punctuation. Example: #Thnx #Din #Yum. “Mom, I am grateful that you are such a good cook. The roasted chicken was my favorite dinner this week; it was delicious!”
5) Family Crest of Honor: Encourage your children to speak properly. Correct them immediately upon hearing mistakes, but not in a punitive way; strive to be pleasantly instructive. Avoid correcting them in front of peers after five years of age, but note the gaffe and take them aside later. Use your family name to instill pride: “The Greens speak properly. You are a Green; it’s important that you…”
Let’s not send grammar rules to the graveyard just yet. Do your part to keep grammar alive or the 140-Character Generation’s kids may see a return of hieroglyphic communication. #Grammar #Rules #Rock
By: Sherry Maysonave, Author of EggMania: Where’s the Egg in Exactly
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