There appeared a short note on English Usage in The Hindu..

The sentence in question was — ‘Hopefully the eggs are fresh.'

Purists of the English language took objection to it and maintained that people should say: ‘I hope, the Eggs are fresh.'

Their objection was to the word ‘hopefully'. But it is difficult for the purists to stand in a market place and teach people how to ask questions. But still, The purists tried to maintain what they said was correct, The matter was referred to a Professor of English who understood their anguish and told them that their stand was correct but added that the sentence -‘Hopefully the eggs are fresh'- also can be accepted.

The purists became incensed and retorted, “You are like a priest practising celibacy for yourself but advocating adultery to the parishioners.'

When I read the article in the Open Page, September 18, “---God save the English Language” with comments “have some consideration—for someone who prefers not to butcher the English language”, I could as well understand the anguish of the purist in her.

Mobile messages have various aspects although the messages that we collect for analysis do not represent the whole range of people. We hear people say:

Language in the internet is a huge disaster.

All abbreviations in the internet are rubbish'—

If students tend to forget how to spell words particularly when they use abbreviations such as---‘C U latr'; ‘gr8' ; ‘2mrw';---- this misspelling might get into their exam also.

People feel that — spelling, punctuation and capitalisation — all the three are at stake in mobile communication. Does the language indeed suffer because of these abbreviations?

How many people use them and how do they use them?

A closer scrutiny reveals that all the words are not abbreviated. Standard English still has its sway.

Perhaps abbreviation is a crude, dramatic radicalisation. All age-groups abbreviate but surprisingly each age level has its own different ways of abbreviations. So these abbreviations are — age-level, age-sensitive and also gender-sensitive.

The question is who invented these abbreviations?

C for see; U for you—gr8 for great etc.

We can see them even in 18th century particularly in the Victorian era. For example:

ROFL—rolling on the floor laughing / RFD-request for discussion / RLF-real life friend

SWALK- ‘sealed with a loving kiss—old people did (use) it at a time when there were no mobiles at all.

Why do people abbreviate? Two factors contribute to this practice — time and money.

For a question “Is ‘txtng msgs' a revolution”, the answer is both yes and no. Yes, it's revolutionary in the sense that it deviates from the traditional type of writing. No, it's not, because nothing new happens. Sounds paradoxical.

However there are more convincing reasons to decide that it is not revolutionary for nothing NEW happens in the areas of Vocabulary, grammar, morphology and orthography.

Does Vocabulary change because of this? Yes. But the change it brought is infinitesimal because not more than 1000 words are added to the language.

Well over a million words in English a slight change in mere 1000 or 2000 words- is just a drop.

Secondly, there is no new order in Grammar — for 99 per cent of the grammar in mobiles, chat-rooms and in blogs and in the internet is the same.

In orthography the changes brought by ‘txtng' are becoming less and less in the World Wide Medium particularly in punctuation, capitalisation and spelling.

Informality standards have been extended both by mobiles and Internet. To put it metaphorically, we have some sort of linguistic wardrobe in our brains—formal to bathing costume--we choose the right one at the right time.

It has added to our linguistic wardrobe at the informal end of the spectrum.

Mobile communication is a new medium to manipulate- and to manoeuvre. However the language used is almost the same as it was before its advent.

I happened to listen to a lecture by David Crystal in Wales University-UK some time back; he discussed the ‘txt-mssgng' in mobiles and conversations in ‘chat-rooms' and concluded his speech with the following sentence:

‘Txt mssgng' does not foretell the demise of English Language. It is a myth.'

(The writer is Professor of English-EIT-Eritrea. His email id is: subra12@gmail.com)

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