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Can U Plz Write English?

USA Today has an article titled Yo, can u plz help me write English? that I found interesting as a fan of English, a pursuant of proper grammar, and a person who has never, never typed three letters to indicate audible laughter.

As Etan points out, this new language is simply a method of abbreviation. People have been doing this for years: HTTP, TCP/IP, AOL, IBM, Mr., can't, etc. What's inappropriate about these abbreviations, as the article states, is their use outside of an instant message or an email:

Carl Sharp knew there was a problem when he spotted his 15-year-old son's summer job application: "i want 2 b a counselor because i love 2 work with kids." That night, the father in Phoenix removed the AOL Instant Messenger program from the family computer and informed both his children they were no longer to chat with friends online.

I've understood for a looooong time that there's a time and a place for different kinds of language. I don't say "fuck" in a job interview, or around clergy, but I just typed it here on my blog. It seems to me these kids not only lack the most basic education of how the world works, but some common sense as well.

English instructor Cindy Glover, who last year taught a section of freshman composition at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, says she spent a lot of time unteaching Internet-speak. "My students were trying to communicate fairly academic, scholarly thoughts, but some of them didn't seem to know it's 'y-o-u,' not 'u,'" Glover says.

FAU is about ten miles from me. If Ms. Glover needs any help beating up students, she should feel free to give me a call. These students should immediately be given Fs on their papers, matter of factly. If they're arriving at the college level without this understanding, I don't know what that says about our country's education system.

Finally, Etan points out this piece:

Online lingo may even have roots in other languages, says communications professor Robert Schrag of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The absence of vowels, for example, is similar to how Hebrew is usually written, he says. And the use of "emoticons" - punctuation sequences such as :-) that create smiley faces and the like to convey emotion - are a form of the pictographic characters used in Asian languages.

At least on this point, Robert Schrag is a fucking moron. It's a system of abbr. Nothing else.

9 Responses to "Can U Plz Write English?"

  1. least that's why I plan not to have kids.

  2. And the hits keep coming... Thanks for pointing this article out. Lately all my rants seem to be about the sorry state of the English language. This just adds more fuel to the fire.

    thx again. 😉

  3. Well, I think the problem is that kids get in touch with chat/IM before getting in touch with "proper" English...

  4. IM helped me learn to type... Now I can pump out 70wpm and down a coke at the same time--a darn good skill.

    I know to not use '2' in place of to or too. Most people do. Sadly, most people just use 'to'. That extra 'o' is probably just for looks right?

    Don't get me started on there/their/they're. What were people thinking making two words and a contraction sound identical?

    We live in a speed driven world. Expect only more abbr.

  5. You *so* need to have more interesting job interviews.

  6. Well how do you indicate laughter? "i am laughing out loud?" 😉 But I agree with the lack of grammar skills; it's amazing how few people know how to really write.

  7. 😀 or 🙂

  8. Random Rants

    Just all the random things crossing my mind in the past few days. Steffen pointed me to this nifty

  9. I have an answer for those who were not taught English grammar. Visit for a program that works. I promise.