Finally, here is the post that has been sitting half-written on my desktop for two days!
As the writer in the family I also get to be the one who checks the kids’ homework papers. I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the grammar that they use in their school papers.
The following sentences may work when you’re a teenager and sending a text message to your best friend:
- r u red-e? (It now looks like there may actually be a website of this name.)
- y r u sad?
However, these sentences won’t work for most professional writing. Using these sentences (or sentences like them) in anything but a personal blog may limit your audience.
It doesn’t take too much genius to see that the grammar problem is already moving into the world of web writing and into the blogosphere. I’m not talking about the complex verb tense problems, either. I’m talking about major stuff like using whole words in your sentences and creating sentences that have both a subject and a verb.
As a member of one of the last generations to come of age without IM, Text-Messaging, or E-mail (yikes, I think I’m telling my age) I feel blessed to have missed out on the damage these nifty electronic communication tools can do to one’s grammar.
If you’re a writer who is accustomed to spending hours and hours text messaging your friends it’s natural to let the relaxed grammar of electronic messaging slip into your other writing. If you’re trying to build a professional freelance writing career, this carelessness can have detrimental effects–unless you work to overcome it.
What can be done to overcome a sloppy and haphazard grammar habit? I’m posting the following list that I use with my own kids:
- Read good writing. We tend to emulate what we read. If everything you read is written in online electronic shorthand youâ€™ll tend to write in electronic shorthand. Seek out great authors and read their work. If you don’t know where to begin, try the library.
- Cut down on the time you spend using electronic shorthand. The less you expose yourself to poor grammar habits, the less you are likely to subconsciously bring them into your own writing. Someone who spends every spare moment text messaging their friends will have a harder time transitioning to more focused writing than someone who spends less than an hour a day text messaging.
- Frequent sites that use the kind of writing style that you want to learn. Watch how the writers at those sites use sentences and learn what works.
What do you think? Is your writing affected by your use of IM, Text-Messaging, and E-mail?
Leave a comment and let me know. Leave your own tips on how to improve your writing. OR, leave a comment with the funniest electronic shorthand sentence that you’ve seen.
Contents (c) Copyright 2007, Laura Spencer. All rights reserved.