Photo by Lacie Slezak
Reaching the age when I was no longer dependent on someone to read to me was magical. I still remember the exhilaration I felt having the freedom to choose the book, the place, and the moment in which to warmly wrap myself in the story, enjoying the words and their marvelous ability to transport me on my solitary adventure. My only companions were my imagination and my Webster’s Dictionary.
I often flipped through the pages of my Webster’s, looking up any word that was unfamiliar. I never skipped over an unknown word not only because I wanted to increase my vocabulary but also because I didn’t want to risk missing the nuance of the story by not understanding a strange, new word.
Although time and many books read has expanded my vocabulary, I still find that there are books that have me looking up one word or another every few chapters. Now, however, with the passage of time and the advancement of technology, my heavy, hard cover Webster’s has been relegated to a far corner of my bookshelf. I now use the convenient dictionary built into my Kindle.
Never have I regretted the time taken to look up and learn a new word. I thrill at increasing my arsenal of literary weaponry. After all, a writer’s battle to write is better fought when an armory of words has been carefully collected and stored.
Recognizing the importance of having a firm grasp of the English language and a strong command of its usage, what happens when English is no longer English?
Recently, I read an article and again I was reaching for my dictionary only this time it wasn’t my trusty Webster’s, it was the Urban Dictionary. Almost every four sentences, I was forced to look up some new slang word or, most annoyingly, an acronym. Those pesky little letters strung together to replace a perfectly usable, working sentence.
I’m not sure if the advent of a new language happened quietly while I was immersed in my Austen and Wharton novels, but it seems that there is an “English” with which I’m not familiar and one which I’m not interested to learn.
Frustrated in seeing the repeated letters, “IRL” throughout an article, I finally looked it up after skipping over the reference four times. For those who also use complete sentences, it translates to “In real life.”
I am left asking, why?
Why couldn’t the writer type three words? Why is this considered hip, cute, now? Why is this today’s “English?”
At the risk of being an askhole (someone who asks pointless questions), I have to know if my years of looking up and learning new words have been futile. After all, the new generation has short-handed English into a cool, new language that has been chopped, combined and mutilated past my recognition.
Understand that I’m not trying to blamestorm (session where a group discusses who is at fault) it’s just that I feel as though the transformation of English into a few scattered letters and nonsensical jargon is confusing and, well, depressing.
Am I supposed to turn in my dictionary for an app that translates every article and soon–gasp–books into discernible English?
As a whole new generation duck faces (pursed lips) for the camera and sends a pic captioned, “OMG, I’m totes adorbs.” Translation: Oh my God, I am totally adorable.
I’m left thinking, Today’s English? WTF? No translation needed. FR (for real)
SCNR (Sorry, could not resist)!
Thank you for reading. I’m excited to hear what you think.