Autocorrect Should Translate Text Slang into English... Because Kids Actually Think It's Correct Grammar
I don't know about you, but I HATE the way kids write. They come across to me as ignorant buffoons.
I understand why somebody would want to abbreviate as much as possible using an old touchtone dialing pad. I never felt the need to use texting on those kinds of phones, but I could understand why those who did used abbreviations.
Here's the problem. Many of today's kids use that ridiculous way of writing when they are using a full scale word processor, and even when they write on paper with a pen. Teachers are reporting that students often use TextSpeak / Text Slang when they do school work.
The problem is not just with excessive use of abbreviations with strange combinations of numbers and letters, but with the total lack of sentence structure and punctuation.
To be clear. I'm not a grammar fanatic. I like to use a casual, conversational tone when I write, but I do get a chuckle when somebody writes things like "He DON'T know what he's writing.", rather than "He DOESN'T know what he's writing." Even if somebody corrects them every time they say it, they may still make that mistake because it's something they heard thousands of times when they were young.
The kinds of things I see people write today are much worse, such as:
- Single letters in place of words and numbers inside words, like "C U L8R".
- Lack of capitalization for the start of sentences or names... (OR EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS).
- A complete lack of punctuation.
- Words with letters missing. Which letters are skipped seem completely arbitrary, such as TMRW for Tomorrow.
- Shortcut phrases like OMG, LOL, ROTFL, SMH, TTYL, TY, and FWIW. Some are so obscure only the most texting savvy have any idea what they stand for.
Like the Doesn't / Don't issue, the longer somebody is exposed to an incorrect use of language, the harder it is for people to stop using it.
The more they are exposed to CORRECT writing, the more they are likely to stop using it!
First of all, parents and teachers should always use correct language to set an example, and draw attention to any text slang the child uses in their writing.
When somebody writes me using Text Slang, I never lower the bar and write on their level. I'm far from perfect, but I always try to use complete sentences, capitalization and punctuation in my replies. No exceptions. I'm never in that much of a rush that I can't type a few extra letters. Sooner or later, they realize that I'm not a fan of TextSpeak and they tend to clean up the next responses, even if it's just a little better.
One way to increase exposure to correct writing is for AutoCorrect to fix it.
Some of you are thinking that auto-correction will still encourage people to write shortcuts, but believe it or not, it won't... here's why.
Text Slang evolved from peer pressure. People use it, because everyone else is using it.
You say "got 2 go... RU goin?" they write back "K. C U L8R". Do this 1000 times, and that becomes the norm.
If auto-correct fixed both sides of the conversation, both sides will always see the correct text. They won't know if the other person typed it exactly like that or if it was auto-corrected. At least both people will see the improved sentence.
This way, the shortcuts only serve as a keyboard shortcut. This is similar to the way a stenographer or court reporter uses quick methods to transcribe something in their notes, but the finished product has the full text.
Who knows... Maybe this is all Van Halen's fault? They called their second Sammy Hagar album OU812.
Joe Crescenzi, Founder
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