By James Boehm“
Article in response to “To be or Not To Be” by David Crystal
2b or not 2b?”: That Presents a Question
A man tells his wife, “When I look at your face, time stands still. Another man tells his
ex-wife to be, “You have a face that could stop a clock.” Both men are saying the same thing. Yet, notice the striking difference in connotation. Now, consider this: You text your mom “Did you not receive the package I sent you?” She replies, “Yes.” Initially, you accept her reply. But then you begin pondering, “Wait a minute, is Mom meaning “Yes, I got the package,” or “Yes, I did not receive the package?” Why different connotations? Such examples prove that meaning is determined at times not by what one says, but how one says it.
Thus, we come to the subject of text messaging. The majority of readers will agree, especially now into the 21st century, that texting has advantages and is commonplace. However, there is a downside in utilizing such a form of communication. The texting population experiences first-hand daily the imperfections of mass communication in one form or another. What views have some expressed in regard to such interaction?
One such view is in “2b or Not 2b, where” David Crystal addresses texting and relates the modern form of messaging to centuries of communication among humankind in its various forms.. Crystal relates how puzzles of old and many words that we use today are actually born from larger words. He comments that some play the “blame game” on texting in reference to poor grammar and writing among the current generation. One reference accused mass messaging of messing up the English language. In a change of scenery, Crystal gives kudos to modern-day messaging as he points to the reasoning that kids must have a higher form of intellectual English to text. High levels of creativity are needed to convey a thought in a shortened version. “2b or not 2b” leaves a spread of both sides of the bread, as it were, giving the reader points to ponder. While “2b or Not 2b?” is quite informative, Crystal fails to address what’s lost in communication when texting; furthermore, Crystal’s argument also neglects the dangers of texting.
Crystal cites the reader’s perceptions and others comments on “SMSing,” which stands for short message service, The research done on the history of abbreviations and short-handed writing was impressive and informative. Crystal states, “Just a little over ten years ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of ‘texting.’” (Crystal 336). This statement is truly accurate; you can see even today, only four years since this article was written, that mass messaging has grown leaps and bounds. Even the use of the “emoji” keyboard, keyboard providing characters of facial expressions and art, permeates the messaging world. Likewise, in the Braille writing system that blind persons use, there are 189 abbreviations and contractions. Texting is such a coveted technology today that even the blind community wants to participate, that as of February 7, 2013, new software was released that replicated the braille keyboard so that users may braille to text other smart phone users.Such an application is interesting because the keys on a Braille writer, in comparison to an “Qwerty” keyboard that sighted people are accustomed to, has only six keys and a central spacebar.
Today, you see people as well who you may have never thought would begin texting are participants- such as my mother who now does on a daily basis as she surprises me with SMS jargon and abbreviations that I myself am uncertain of their meaning. At times I have to Google what she sends me to find out its meaning! Hence, from my own mother, to the silver haired grandma who lives down your street, more and more of the population participate in text messaging their friends and family. Next thing you will know, I will find my guide dog Shep shooting out a text message to his other guide dog buddy. How he will do this without opposable thumbs, I am not positive, but I am sure Apple well eventually make an app for that! Further, if Crystal has his way, such a future situation will be bound to occur. But consider this: Just because mom,grandma, down the street and a large population partake in this latest technological fad, should we automatically presume texting as the acceptable and preferred way of communication?
No it should not! History has produced many fine examples where the common idea and acceptable way of thinking is not always the best, appropriate, and understanding. For instance, some ancient eastern cultures held the belief that the Earth was supported on the back of turtle, serpent, or elephant. Eventually, these myths were put to rest with growing knowledge of earth science and astronomy. Crystal indeed has a “World Turtle” view of modern day messaging by claiming its popularity gives it validation.
Yet, regardless of how informative Crystal’s texting debate is, it’s ultimately ineffective if it can’t be understood. In addition, the flow of the essay leaves the reader somewhat confused as to the writer’s position and is at times as clouded as an abbreviated text with unclear meaning. It is not until you meditate upon completing the reading before you begin to grasp Crystal’s viewpoint. Such a stand could have been portrayed clearer. How often have you texted someone and the receiver depicted a complete different mood or meaning than you were attempting to portray? This scenario is common place and a major flaw. Furthermore, more could have been stressed on the meaning that is strained as it flows from your finger tips to the colander texting device.
The “2b or not 2b” essay uses the word “evolution” (Crystal 345). It refers to the advancement of the human age in relation to texting. Yet, when we consider the numerous weaknesses of texting can we seriously consider it an advancement? Or, can we consider it laziness and poor attention to detail? When you look at a common text message, the omission of punctuation, spelling, and proper grammar etiquette is prevalent. Further, can texting be a symbol portraying our modern day philosophy of never stopping to smell the roses? Do we really accomplish any more than our ancestors of old? With all our modern day conveniences, how can we still feel there is not enough time in the day?
There is no denial that abbreviating has been a pastime from the beginning of the concept of writing to communicate. Nevertheless, the issue of portraying a clear and concise message, free from misinterpretation, is evident, which is simply the nature of the beast. Consider a common day example: You text your girlfriend or boyfriend after you know that she or he has had a stressful day, “Are you feeling alright?” He or she simply replies, “Yes.” You begin to ponder what she really meant. Could her reply be taken with various meanings? Yes! Furthermore, just the slight mishap of not capitalizing a letter can change the understanding of a sentence completely. Consider the two: I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse. I helped my uncle jack off the horse. Truly an innocent misreading can have a tremendous effect on our desired meaning. True, the majority of comon people own a smart phone and find text messaging convenient;sadly, mss’s convenience often transforms into inconvenience.How more nice would it be to limit your use of the “relationship killer” and just hit the send button! Clearly, texting is far from a “linguistic phenomenon!” (Crystal 345). “2b or not 2b?” significantly brings meaning into question and has a face that could stop a clock!