Throughout my life, I’ve always been a fan of free markets with minimal regulation, and please note the ‘minimal’ keyword there, as some regulation is always needed. Nevertheless, when it comes to ‘free-speech’ and writer’s prose, I also believe in absolute freedom, but do we need at least a little regulation lest our language becomes so dummied down it is unrecognizable? Let’s talk because this was a topic of conversation recently with an elite panel of writers.
You see, we all know how text messaging is affecting the English Language and how the slang is being used on blogs and all over the Internet today. If the average citizen is of a low reading level and if this is how they communicate then should we writers tailor our writing to fit their needs, wants, and desires? Or should we give up the fight and ‘go with the flow’ so to speak?
One notable author and writer suggests that you can have both free-market successes without sacrificing quality and states; “My teaching experience consistently suggested that if you challenge pupils to “keep up” they will. Conversely, if you stay mediocre in order to get accepted or even understood – guess, what? you get just mediocrity back.”
Yes, that is true, but we cannot educate the whole world, it’s hard enough to keep the ‘no child allowed to advance’ in the mainstream of proper grammar as it is. Now then, Bob goes on to warn us that; “If writing is so lazily and cynically done as to not merit reading anyway: no harm done if it doesn’t get read. That’s just basic quality control,” and “As for ‘new’ ideas about communication – oh, bless. Neologism and coinage are hardly innovatory: they’re as old as language itself.”
Okay so, this is interesting dialogue. I don’t philosophically disagree with anything you’ve said, of course, you are correct in your observations, and those are similar observations and understandings of human societies that I hold. So, what’s the answer?
We can blame social media; Twitter, Facebook, even this LinkedIn site (although a lot better), but this is the new norm. No, I am not an apologetic for this future, nor a Luddite even though I choose not to carry around a dumb-phone distraction – but I am observing this reality as we all are, and we cannot deny that screaming “someone stole my cheese” is going to get us anywhere but the unemployed mousetrap.
It’s not that we writers or authors are wrong about all this, what is happening isn’t right, we need not botch the English Language, but complaining about it isn’t going to stop the climate of change, and trying to stop it is not going to be fruitful either. Writers and authors must adapt and our schools need a greater emphasis on the written word in my view. What’s yours?