That’s 1337! Er, “leet.” Er, elite. Er, that’s good
I have a hard time with English here and there. Homonyms, synonyms, adverbial endings, antecedent agreements—there’s a lot to track. And even when afforded correction tools like spell checks (now built into browsers to flag words as you type…yikes!) and grammar scans, English can still be a bit of a beast.
Still, generally, most people do well. You could say we’re (in America) down to an eighth grade reading level (newspapers) and falling (Who reads newspapers anyway?), but, still, sentences generally flow and follow the general rules.
That said, I see and hear a lot from online users, kids and grammatical behavior in things like video games. One of the seeming modern rules of adaptive grammar is “if it’s used long enough, it becomes correct.” I say “seeming” because there are always the conservative linguists that claw and hold on to every scrap of proper language and the progressive linguists who just go with forward popular usage.
Famous cases of begrudgingly adopted words like “ain’t” are laughed off. “Oh yes! I remember that, ha ha ha! So silly.” And more benign trends of eschewing “archaic” (as progressives would say) spelling conventions like -ough for “u” sounds are commonplace—Drive “Thru” is one. Another is replacing -ight with “ite” as in: Late “Nite” and “Lite” Yogurt.
We see these so much, they don’t even phase us. Heck, at one time, contractions were regarded with similar resistances from conservatives and shrugs from progressives, and many use those liberally (although not in professional or academic writings).
American English seems to follow this sort of “if it’s how I speak, it’s how I write” trend. Moreover, “if it’s how I spell, it’s just the way it is.”
I was playing an online game—one involving thousands of people all running around doing their thing. I play two, primarily, one has a large American population and one does not. Not only do I enjoy the games themselves, but I find the study of those who play significantly fascinating. The European game is host to Germans, French, British, Slovakian, Russian, men from Cyprus, older, younger, soldiers, students—a host of interesting people with interesting views on life, language, politics…Anyway, the American-based one has scores fewer mature players—be it player age or general demeanor of Americans, I can’t say. Chat is always full of “You suck!” and “You’re gay!” lines, and, well the reason for the post.
In this one particular example, someone broadcasted to sell something in the game. Invariably, someone screamed out the equivalent of “That thing sucks! What a rip off!” and the kid responded with “Die! im youre worst night mare.”
As someone who sees a thousand grammatical massacres a day, I didn’t really flinch. What was interesting was a couple of other chaps started giving him sh*t for it, laughing at the “youre” and “night mare” bits. The kid/guy/whomever became defensive and started in about how “The internet doesn’t have any spell checks so who cares?” and “i can spell how i want.”
What’s interesting to me and the reason I’m scribbling all this down, is that he’s exactly right.
Any of you chat? I mean, with those little IM phones or devices? “Ur gr8!”, “I luv u.”, “Zomg! BFF! BRB, cya!” There’s a whole other language out there. And I’m not getting into one of those “Kids these days!” rants, I’m just pointing it out to those who don’t bother with that “kids stuff.” Well, friends, those kids are going to become tomorrows young adults and so on. These linguistic trends are going to continue.
Tangent: Salmons’ view of generational maturation
When a generation matures, it’s not so much that they give up all of the popular social cultural bits that had them labeled as “silly” by the older generation, it’s just that the even younger generation comes up with different and therefore “silly” popular social cultural bits that the newly mature generation pins on them. Thus, there are no concrete “older” or “younger” ways of thinking, as in you grow “in to” or “out of” a mindset, there’s just the ideas and environments that a certain group grows up in and, thus, shapes its thought processes and demeanors. The children of the ’60s are no less children of the ’60s because they are “older.” They still attack the world with most of the same ideas and processes, influenced by their time.
It might be said that as a group grows older, they become more “conservative” when family, houses, mortgages, etc., creep into the picture. And that’s partially true, giving rise to the notion that you get “old” while the “young” people stay “silly.” But this isn’t the case when history comes into play.
Look at the American political left and right from the past—say, 50 years. The “liberals” of the 1950, in their general regard for economic, social, political and nationalist agendas, would be staunch conservatives by today’s political standards. I’m not saying one is right or one is wrong. I’m just pointing out that “older” and “younger” is relative to the accusing generation’s immediate progeny or predecessors. Regardless of age or disposition, there is an external social momentum that carries things on, beyond how crazy the “kids” are.
Regardless of how we rail and rage against the states of things, certain aspects of our culture will grow and evolve. Thus, my realization that American English is going to continue its trend.
So, since there is a river before us, and it is flowing in a particular way, where will it lead?
We’ve already traversed the simple stuff—Nite, Lite, double negatives. Now let’s get in to real grammatical deconstruction.
The Future of American English
Someone commented on a Youtube video about a ferret flipping out after eating a pepper:
lol that not nice expecially becaust you tryed to feed it to it again and that ferret must have been thursty lol
On someone’s myspace page:
i MiGhT bE a [[Gg]] BuT i LoVe HoLLiStEr….YeAh Im DaT cHiCk DaT lUvZ HoLlisTEr&&*mY hOlLiStEr Iz So SoFt..lOl!*
After you are killed in a video game:
im s0 1337 taht i pwn ur @ss n00b!
On someone’s page after being laughed at:
Ya MeAn JuS plAyIn DatZ wAs FuNnI tHoOo..
The stage has been set. Small recent linguistic concessions, coupled with the general impotence of Postmodernism is allowing communication to change at a record pace. Sure, employers might require a certain level of communicative prowess, just like many still wear ties. Still, “proper” language and speech will unfortunately be regarded as one of those things Mom or “the boss” insists on, rather than a point of pride for an individual in the modern world. Too bad, really. Just as things were getting interesting. It would have been nice to know what the &^%$ people are saying.