What’s Happening to da English Language?

This post could easily turn into a rant if I let it, but I’m not going to let it. I’d rather laugh about it than spend energy ranting.

It started off by a status update a younger family member had on Facebook that lead me to ask the question (While pulling my hair out by the roots.)

What the heck happened to the English language?

So I get the whole texting thing. I understand that words are abbreviated. “U” for “You”, “R” for “are.” That makes sense to me. No big deal. Not to mention it’s pretty acceptable on twitter. It has to be with only 140 characters at our disposal.

But now I’m seeing the kids writing things like, “back from the movies…fun time wit the fellas,” in their facebook status. When someone asked which movie. The reply came “hobo wit a shotgun.”

When I sarcastically questioned this young person’s use of the word “wit” someone else chimed in:

“Live in the city and all you hear is Wit ..da… fo… sho

Well, maybe that’s the way “city” people speak these days. I live in the country so what do I know? But the writer in me still says, no…no…no.

“With” is spelled “with,” and will never ever be spelled “wit.”

*Eye twitch*

I started to wonder what my novel would look like if I wrote and spoke the way this particular young person does.

So here goes:

Dat has to be da law,thought Pru Burbidge da day a strange car stopped in front of da house. It was late January and bitterly cold, even wit a fire burning in da kitchen stove. Da bottoms of all da windows were decorated wit sheets of frost frozen so solid dat Pru had just a small patch of glass to see through. An icy wind had whipped across da crest of da snow all dat morning and shut da house completely off from da main road.

I’m fairly certain that my editor at Nimbus would never have accepted Bitter, Sweet had it been written in that manner, but she lives in the city so maybe I stand to be corrected. After all, that’s all you hear in the city. Right?

Sarcasm aside, is this the way the English language is heading? Are we evolving into a society that no longer values the proper use of the English language? I’m not even speaking aboutthe parts of speech here because that’s a whole other blog post in itself.

I don’t hang out with a lot of young people so I can’t say for sure if this is the way most young people speak and write today. I have only the word of these two people on facebook.

So I’ll ask da rest of you. Do you see or hear young people commonly using “wit” for “with” “da” for “the” and “fo” for “for” ? If you do, does it make your eye twitch da way it does mine?

But most importantly if da use of these words (did I say words?) suddenly became acceptable could you ever see yourself fully embracing their use?

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  1. It makes me twitch, squirm and wriggle just thinking about it, Laura! It will never be acceptable to me!


  2. I admit, I’ve fallen farther into that awful way of speech since I’ve started texting more. But it makes me want to chew nails when people actually speak like that in real life. I can’t even stand those isms when I’m IMing. It would be so weird if people wrote like that in books. I definitely wouldn’t be as big a reader as I am now.

    • Julie, I’m glad to hear you say it would look weird if people wrote that way. :)

      This particular family member does speak that way and it drives me up the wall. I’ve told him so. I don’t usually do that. I think it’s the wit more than anything that gets on my nerves.

  3. Good attempt with paragraph wit do da’s an all. But sista you still doan be speak ghetto. Need to learn the the rite beat (words)for strange(bitchin) car (wheels or ride),house (crib) . bitterly cold(da north pole, feel me? ) etc.

    • Well this comment had me rolling on the floor!

      I’ve got to try it your way, Carl.

      Dat has to be da law,thought Pru Burbidge da day a bitchin’ ride stopped in front of da crib.

      Too, to funny! Thanks for the chuckle.

      • You now be down(cool) wid my dawgs(friends). A tip o da hat(brim). Sooo dope(double cool). Spent 34 years 11th grade history teacher Miami. I be like mayor a da hood, feel me?

  4. Melanie

     /  April 27, 2011

    That excerpt made me laugh out loud.

    I think that’s the way the language is headed in a lot of places, informally and spoken. It is annoying to me when kids think it’s cool to type like that, especially when it makes what they’re trying to say hard to understand. I don’t think we ever have to worry about suffering through books written this way though LOL I think it’s a text/facebook thing really.

    • Mel, I sure hope books aren’t going to be written this way by the younger generation. It would be highly annoying, and as you say, difficult to understand.

      Glad the excerpt made you laugh! I thought it sounded pretty ridiculous!

  5. I’m laughing WIth you, Laura. My grandmother used to say “Wit” but that was because she had problems with silent H. My mother would her chin in her hand and say in French, “Mama, repeat after me: W…ith” My grandmother would screw up her face and try very hard, but it always came out as “Wa… it.”

    Loved your post.

  6. haha, I can’t type. It was suppose to be: “My mother would take her chin in her hand, screw her mother’s lips together and say, ….

    still cracks me up.

  7. I haven’t seen that on Facebook, and I have young friends, so maybe it’s not pervasive. I hope it’s not. However, I am lost in the abbreviations. I finally learned lol, but there are many more, and they are getting longer. Ha! I think this kind of talk is faddish. I hope all these new abbreviations are also a fad, but they may be here to stay as long as we have Facebook and Twitter. lol. Your revised version of the excerpt from Bitter, Sweet made me laugh. Blessings to you, Laura…

    • Trust me, Carol Ann, some of those abbreviations you don’t want to know. I had my daughter send me a list before I ever started blogging to use in a story I was writing. I don’t remember most of them. Glad I made you chuckle, Carol Ann! Nothing like a good chuckle from time to time.

  8. I cringed the other day when I hit ‘shrink post’ on my newly installed Tweet Deck. I think with shrunk to wit. :)

    • One of my biggest per peeves is the “with” to “wit,” but I guess it’s best to joke about these things. :)

  9. Texting and IMing have changed how we communicate online but no one I can think of in our extended family talks like that. Then again, there are always new words cropping up among the teenagers. Do you ever check http://www.urbandictionary.com/ for definitions? Fortunately, when it comes to our writing, overdoing dialect isn’t recommended, so I’m hoping I won’t have to decipher my way through future novels. So far I haven’t tried reading any of the increasingly popular “e-mail novels” yet.

    • Times are definitely changing, Carol! Have not checked out the urban dictionary. Will it frighten me if I do? ;) Actually, I’ll check it out and thanks for sending the link.

      I’ve not heard of email novels. I guess I’m in my own little world. Now I have to check that out as well. Oh you keep me on my toes, Carol.

  10. There’s actually a name for this language: Ebonics. True dat.

  11. Sometimes my kids use a word or two like that, but I correct them. They think it’s cool, but even though I grew up in Cole Harbour, just outside of Dartmouth, that way of speaking was not acceptable in our communities. There were others who spoke that way when I was in high school — some came by it naturally, but others did it just to be cool.

    It’s not cool. It’s lazy and soon turns into mumbles.

    Like everything, I think it’s a phase for kids between 12 and 20. It was when I was younger, speaking like a hooligan. It’ll pass, and although a few words will linger, many of those using it today won’t use it when they’re 35.

    Will books ever be written using it? Of course, but they’ll just be phase books that will try and fail to grab a market. Will I read a book written that way? Probably not because the books written that way would have subjects that would not interest me.

    • I’m fairly certain this family member thinks it’s a bit cool. I used to correct him all the time when he’d tell me things like ” I went wit my fadder.” *Cringe* To me that’s just sloppy English.

      I hope you’re right, that’s it’s just a phase. If I had to read a book written that way I’d have my hair pulled out for sure or else I’d be in hysterics. I’d rather the hysterics. ;)

  12. Ug! I hate that too. You wouldn’t believe that I even get professional resumes sent to me that use modern slang – terrible! Have you read the book “The Help?” I loved it and what I found most interesting is that author used slang that was used back in those days. It took a while to get used to as a reader, but after a few chapters, I was so glad she took that approach. I wonder if decades from now, today’s slang could have the same impact?

    • Haven’t read “The Help.” I might have to check it out. It will be interesting to see what will take place years down the road.

  13. As Tricia stated earlier, they speak like this because Ebonics and Hip Hop became very popular a few years ago and still are very mainstream, so the kids speak like that to sound “cool”. Some people use it to make fun of those who just blindly follow trends or just to be geeky.

    Personally? Meh. Not my thing.

    What drives me nuts is the text-speak where you literally cannot understand a single word they say and it’s all numbers and letters.

  14. It drives me crazy…but Carl’s attempt makes me laugh! The other thing that drives me nuts is acronyms…I almost NEVER get them.

  15. fivecats

     /  May 3, 2011

    Ah da n’t no wha’s ha pen-in to da talk. Ah’s blem it all on da tek-no-e-gee. Ah’s neeed ah u-ne-vur-sil tran-su-lay-tur jus to talk.

    I hope you can understand. :)

    • Wow! I think I got most of that..But I’m not completely sure. The last part came out loud and clear and, well the smiley face, that’s universal isn’t it?

      • fivecats

         /  May 3, 2011

        It’s part slang, part technology that has an effect on the language … at least the speaking part. Whether it translates to the writing part is sort of 50-50. A teacher friend, years ago, said the emphasis with writing is that spelling and sentence structure was no longer important but putting thought on paper was. It made no sense. I hope that won’t be the outcome in the future. If it is the future, someone better get to inventing and building that universal translator.

  16. Laura, I agree! In fact I realized something about our language last week when I read a book written 86 years ago, so I am blogging about that. I really feel that our vocabulary is turning into such a sloppy mess. It is fast losing its refinement, and that is sad.
    Thanks for such interesting topics.


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