Standard English, Broken English and Now Stupid English

I love the classics.  They’re not always an easy read because the vocabulary is a bit beyond our current vernacular.  It’s rewarding but even I have to keep a dictionary handy.  If we look at written works through time, there is a clear evolution of our language.  From Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales to William Shakespeare’s works to the King James Version of the Bible and the best-selling novels of today – our words are not what they used to be.  In fact, all languages have evolved over time but a Cajun gentleman told me that English is the hardest one to learn.  He grew up in the Bayou and spoke French until he started elementary school.  He explained to me that a Spanish speaker may read the word ‘pickle’ but pronounce it ‘peek-lay’.  Other Latin languages have more phonetic spelling than English.  Among the many other nuances that make it a tough tongue to master.  However, that seems to be changing.

Standard English, Broken English and Now Stupid English

Standard English, Broken English and Now Stupid English

By now, we have all received emails peppered with SMS text abbreviations.  Too often, I’ve received lengthy emails with no paragraph spacing or punctuation.  I don’t know where the sentences begin or end and some words have been replaced with alphanumeric codes: ‘2’ instead of ‘too’; ‘u’ instead of ‘you’; ‘gr8’ instead of ‘great’.  The one that really blows my mind is when simple words are misspelled beyond recognition.  Here’s an example of how degraded the English language has become which I discovered on a NOOK Color app called Pulse News:

“Ooh, wut cyoot littul toiz 4 kittehz! And iffin u liek 2 chek aftur teh jump, u kan see a preevyoo ob teh KittyCam app, which allowz u to control teh moovmintz ob the ball while filming ur cyoot kitteh! Neet!”

If you and I are on the same wavelength, then you’re probably wondering the same thing I did: what the heck was that?  Did this person go to school?  Who taught this person to read?  If that wasn’t bad enough, a quick downward scroll to the Comments section reveals compliments and discussions written with the same gobbledygook.

I wish this bastardisation of my native tongue could be abated.  Unfortunately, pop culture is calling the shots and the gibberish has been validated.  In July 2009 NBC Universal, LLC renamed the Sci-Fi channel SyFy.  This month, the same group changed the cable channel Sleuth to Cloo.  When did spelling like a five year-old mean hip or cool?  Seriously, I want to know because despite great fan derision about the SyFy name change, it has happened again.  It was a mild surprise that the channel was called Sleuth in the first place, since the word is fairly uncommon; but changing it to Cloo?  I thought it was a kiddie station at first then realised that they were ‘dumbing’ it down. As far as I see, if viewers prefer to watch NCIS, Law & Order: Criminal Intent or House MD instead of some tasteless reality show, then the possibility exists they also spell properly.

Is this the future of the English language?  What is poetry going to look like or love letters?  Will there even be love letters?  Will literature’s quality stagnate at the Twilight or Hunger Games level?  Does this bother me because it’s genuinely bad or is it just a sign that I’m getting old?