Friday, 6 May 2011

I Heart...

I am passionate about our language, and I love it in all its many forms. But our language is so precious to us, when people think it has been misused they can get quite defensive about it. My dad was affronted that I had used the phrase “I heart self help books” in my last blog post. I pointed out that I was merely tapping into an increasingly popular contemporary colloquialism; ‘heart’ has been a verb ever since New York made it famous in the 80’s, or was it the 60’s? And one of the things I love about blogging is that I am freed from the shackles of strict grammar and punctuation that I was bound to at University, and when writing for publication. This is MY space, I can afford to be a bit more abstract if I so choose, and as long as I get my point across, and people enjoy reading it, then my mission is accomplished. Besides I think that there is something about using a noun in the place of a verb that makes it seem kind of cuter.

Quite recently I observed a conversation on Facebook about text speak. I personally don’t use text speak whether in texts or anything else, as I think it is tantamount to me greeting my friends with street slang, it makes me feel and sound silly. As much as I heart (ha) my little colloquialisms within my writing, they have to fit the person they are coming from. And street slang just ain’t my bag, baby. And neither is text speak. I admit part of my problem with text speak is that I find it quite difficult to decipher, and pointless now that most phones have predictive text. But my theory on text speak is that any time saved by the person writing it is totally offset by the person reading it, hardly fair. Use proper words when texting me please, as much as I find it fascinating, I simply don’t have time to translate it.

A word on predictive text, who came up with the original dictionary? I am regularly astounded by the words my phone doesn’t recognise and the frankly bizarre ones it does. Today it didn’t recognise ‘bereaved’, but I have noted that it does recognise ‘schizophrenic’. And when writing ‘script’, the first option it suggests is ‘rapist’. You have to ask yourself what kind of person decided to leave out ‘bereaved’ but felt it essential that schizophrenic and rapist be essential additions. Scary.

As a writer, you would think I might be firmly in the ‘don’t mess with my language’ camp, but actually I am the opposite. I love the way language is constantly evolving and that people are always coming up with new ways to communicate in words. The language we choose is a way of expressing our personality, much like the clothes or make up we wear. And my opinion is that as long as something rolls off the tongue when we speak or off the fingers when we type naturally without sounding affected then I’m all for it.

I have many little turns of phrase which others choose not to use. It is part of what makes us different. I don’t use text speak just because I can’t see the point, but I do often shorten words and add an ‘o’ as in ‘defo’ and ‘arvo’.  I know many people find that terribly irritating but what can I say? I’m from the Neighbours generation, and those who don’t like it can rack off, the big galahs. 

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