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It's Called Proper Language, Use It...


Pwnd2Pwnr
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Just got a text message from a friend. It reads, "R U COMN OVR!"... OK ... lets pick that apart.

R.... as in Are... two more characters which would take maybe a second or two.

U... same as above

COMN... really.... fucking really???

OVR... ONE MORE LETTER MORON...

!... that was a question, stupid ass... use a question mark...

This makes me sick to my stomach... what the fuck are wrong with people? AUTO CORRECT DOES NOT DO THAT SHIT!

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Chillax, man. Despite fluff journalism to the contrary, this kind of linguistic short-hand has existed for centuries, if not longer. Over many generations of its use it has not caused our language or our society to collapse or significantly decay. The reason it because, as you demonstrated, you were able to clearly interpret the intended contents of the message. It was a simple message that was encoded in a form that your friend expected you would be able to understand. It may not be pedantically correct, but such pedantry is rarely necessary (or desirable) in informal speech. I wouldn't get too worked up about it unless you see someone writing like that in a professional or formal context.

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Given, but to end a question with a exclamation... maybe I have a disease, and it is not enough cow bell...

PS... he has a MBA and I have "discussed" my issues with him... he does it to be a dick... but what about the children? Kids shouldn't be texting like that... and people ought to learn to spell in any language.

Edited by Pwnd2Pwnr
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You presume that they don't know how to spell because they don't spell words the way they are defined in a dictionary. However, the are managing to encode their messages in a way that is completely comprehensible to their peers and intended audience. Isn't that the point of spelling? To the extent that their words are recognizable and understood by their audience I would argue that the spelling is "correct" for their scope.

English phonology has always been an ugly hack. Our alphabet doesn't accurately map to the sounds we use (which itself varies by country and region). The application of letters and spelling rules is haphazard and inconsistent. Pronunciation in several cases has become a matter of taste. To "properly" spell words, you're essentially memorizing an arbitrary sequence of symbols. So our written form of language was already broken to begin with.

Think of the homophones we have in our language. Is it "its" or "it's"? Notice how an "'s" normally indicates possession, as in "Dot's Diner", but in the case of "it's" it instead represents a contraction of "it is" forcing you to use "its" to indicate possession. However both word sound the same, so why do we bother to represent them differently when we write?

Or take "there", "their", and "they're". They're all pronounced the same way and we don't encounter ambiguity in meaning when these words are used in verbal communication, so why do we get so stressed out when someone types the wrong one by mistake? Was their sentence unclear? Were we not able to interpret the intention based on the context?

In professional or formal writing we may find ourselves writing for a much broader audience and thus we must make a greater effort to express our message according to a stricter set of standards to be sure that the other party will be able to decode it accurately. However, among a narrower audience I don't see any harm in the optimization of vocabulary and grammar which naturally occurs in such groups. This is really not that different from the use of jargon or specialized language in many professions.

For example, the language used by teenagers in their SMS messages is not fundamentally any different from the radio codes and jargon used over HAM and CB.

We all use different language in different contexts. The challenge for parents and teacher is the same as it has always been; to convey the wisdom to recognize the appropriate language for any given context, and prepare them to apply that language effectively.

Edited by Sitwon
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"R U COMN OVER?"

I think this phrase highlights several of the negative features of the English language.

1. Phrasal verbs. Why use the phrasal verb "to come over" when you can use the verb "to come"? Both have nearly the same meaning and can be used interchangeably, but we often resort to the use of phrasal verbs when their base verbs can give the same meaning with less phonetics. Some would argue it's one of the unique features of English, others would say (including myself) that it's the slang that has been integrated into English over the centuries. That's not to say that phrasal verbs don't have their place, but many are overly redundant and under expressive.

2. The use of the verbs "to be" and "to do" to start a sentence. Why say "ARE you coming over?" when you can just say "You coming over?" We don't need to be reminded of existence every time a sentence is started, and I think this is one of the many over complications that English has inherited from French (like the extreme difference between written and spoken English, as Sitwon noted).

3. English's constant use of pronouns. This highlights one of the more primitive concepts of English. Why say "are YOU coming over?" when you can just say "coming over?"? We have to denote the listener, but had the creators of English followed in the footsteps of all of our other Romantic/Latin language speaking brethren, we would have 6 different conjugations for the different pronouns, as opposed to the current 2 that we have and wouldn't have to tack on an extra word every time we used a verb. Instead we leaned towards the Germanic/Greek concepts of conjugations. This could save the English speaker hundreds of consonants per day and extend the life of our vocal chords, or hands if you write/type a lot.

My theory is that the farther you got away from the city of Rome, the more over complicated and less effective Latin based/Romance languages (and languages in general) got. The original Romans hit the nail on the head with Latin, that's why it's replicated in so many other languages, even massively spoken today, and English should have more of the original Latin influence and less Germanic/Greek influence.

I think teachers should encourage students to optimize our language, so that tomorrow's speakers not only will be able to learn other languages with far greater ease, but they will be able to speak to the same points with far less words and less room for misinterpretation.

Edited by bobbyb1980
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"R U COMN OVER?"

I think this phrase highlights several of the negative features of the English language.

1. Phrasal verbs. Why use the phrasal verb "to come over" when you can use the verb "to come"? Both have nearly the same meaning and can be used interchangeably, but we often resort to the use of phrasal verbs when their base verbs can give the same meaning with less phonetics. Some would argue it's one of the unique features of English, others would say (including myself) that it's the slang that has been integrated into English over the centuries. That's not to say that phrasal verbs don't have their place, but many are overly redundant and under expressive.

2. The use of the verbs "to be" and "to do" to start a sentence. Why say "ARE you coming over?" when you can just say "You coming over?" We don't need to be reminded of existence every time a sentence is started, and I think this is one of the many over complications that English has inherited from French (like the extreme difference between written and spoken English, as Sitwon noted).

3. English's constant use of pronouns. This highlights one of the more primitive concepts of English. Why say "are YOU coming over?" when you can just say "coming over?"? We have to denote the listener, but had the creators of English followed in the footsteps of all of our other Romantic/Latin language speaking brethren, we would have 6 different conjugations for the different pronouns, as opposed to the current 2 that we have and wouldn't have to tack on an extra word every time we used a verb. Instead we leaned towards the Germanic/Greek concepts of conjugations. This could save the English speaker hundreds of consonants per day and extend the life of our vocal chords, or hands if you write/type a lot.

My theory is that the farther you got away from the city of Rome, the more over complicated and less effective Latin based/Romance languages (and languages in general) got. The original Romans hit the nail on the head with Latin, that's why it's replicated in so many other languages, even massively spoken today, and English should have more of the original Latin influence and less Germanic/Greek influence.

I think teachers should encourage students to optimize our language, so that tomorrow's speakers not only will be able to learn other languages with far greater ease, but they will be able to speak to the same points with far less words and less room for misinterpretation.

Could you imagine if the next generation actually just gets rid of words are taught at school... ie TEXT MESSAGING 101... <_< ... I would get marked for using a non-capital letter at the beginning of the sentence.,,

BUT, I do not think that just human language should be taught. Programming (which is an universal language) should be taught as a prerequisite.

Edited by Pwnd2Pwnr
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BUT, I do not think that just human language should be taught. Programming (which is an universal language) should be taught as a prerequisite.

I agree with the sentiment of teaching computer literacy earlier on. However teaching programming languages as a requirement is a bag of worms. For example, which language should we teach to them? And how young?

Should we teach C/Python/Ruby? Should we teach Scheme/Lisp? Should we teach Smalltalk/Scratch/EToys? Should we teach Factor/Joy/Forth? Should we teach APL?

I think it's more important to teach students about linguistics more broadly and expose them to different human languages. In particular, I find that many schools only offer Spanish or French as a foreign language. A few offer German, a few offer Latin, but very rarely do you see Mandarin or Japanese or Arabic or Navajo. And on a slightly different tack, I would argue that all students in the USA should learn ASL from a young age.

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I agree with the sentiment of teaching computer literacy earlier on. However teaching programming languages as a requirement is a bag of worms. For example, which language should we teach to them?

I vote everyone should learn machine code. That should really make them appreciate their coders :)

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I agree with the sentiment of teaching computer literacy earlier on. However teaching programming languages as a requirement is a bag of worms. For example, which language should we teach to them? And how young?

Should we teach C/Python/Ruby? Should we teach Scheme/Lisp? Should we teach Smalltalk/Scratch/EToys? Should we teach Factor/Joy/Forth? Should we teach APL?

I think it's more important to teach students about linguistics more broadly and expose them to different human languages. In particular, I find that many schools only offer Spanish or French as a foreign language. A few offer German, a few offer Latin, but very rarely do you see Mandarin or Japanese or Arabic or Navajo. And on a slightly different tack, I would argue that all students in the USA should learn ASL from a young age.

The C++ is, I feel, the stepping stone to understanding. You know c++, everything else is a breeze

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The C++ is, I feel, the stepping stone to understanding. You know c++, everything else is a breeze

Wow, I think C++ is probably one of the worst languages you could teach to beginners. It's unnecessarily convoluted and takes a really, really long time to master. You don't need that much complexity to teach computer science, especially not in the intro levels. Start with something like C or Lisp which are equally powerful but much simpler to teach/learn.

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I am pleased but amazed to find a discussion on the propriety of language brought up here. I have been tempted several times to comment along similar lines, but held myself back thinking I must be getting old or being overly didactic.

However, as you say, self-consistent abbreviation is fine but, for example on this very forum two different people have typed "know"(sic) when they meant NO! I can understand the other way around but this is just perverse! I wont bit.ly and shame them even if I could be bothered.

Such faux pas are where I draw the line as they are obviously contra to brevity (as they are often longer than the correct original), are not cultural references such as the ubiquitous but so last millennium teh (the) etc.

Nor are they flowery historical vestiges (English, French and other "romance" languages are not the only ones prone to this)

N.B. "R U COMN OVR!" -does not violate any of these criteria.. provided its in the right context ie if he was (not wos) texting you and exasperated with you.

All languages be they linguistic or computer programming in nature are just one set of peoples codification of information (which is why its pointless to pick a best programming or linguistic language to learn – its the principals that are important) and like any “Formal System” it is important to obey the semiotic and semantic rules of that system for the full meaning of that information to be conveyed.

Confusion arises when mistakes from miscomprehension (know & no) or rules from one system are applied to a different system, -context! Which is why it would be wrong of me to type this in txt spk...or con-txt. -Aphorism of the day.

Edited by manouche
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The C++ is, I feel, the stepping stone to understanding. You know c++, everything else is a breeze

C++ maybe harder to grasp, but I think javascript would be a great one... My daughter is playing Scratch... and she loves it.

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I think it's more important to teach students about linguistics more broadly and expose them to different human languages. In particular, I find that many schools only offer Spanish or French as a foreign language. A few offer German, a few offer Latin, but very rarely do you see Mandarin or Japanese or Arabic or Navajo. And on a slightly different tack, I would argue that all students in the USA should learn ASL from a young age.

I think some of the languages you mentioned are primitive in nature when compared to English and maybe because of this not widely taught in the States. I have however heard Navajo is quite difficult to learn, regardless of your native language and in a class of its own.

All languages be they linguistic or computer programming in nature are just one set of peoples codification of information (which is why its pointless to pick a best programming or linguistic language to learn – its the principals that are important)

I disagree. Certain languages require a lot more sounds to express a point than others. For example, both Mandarin and Arabic rely heavily on "the if's" to negate conditionality (idda, inn, low in Arabic and jiaru and ruguo in Mandarin) whereas in English and other European languages, we have our own verb tense for that (in addition to the word "if"), resulting in less words being spoken to the same point. Another example that applies to both Mandarin and Arabic is how they differentiate their conceptions of time. They generally use only 3 different verb tenses, where we use about 12 in English (IMO it should be more). They can obviously say everything that we can, they just use more sounds to do it and rely much more on context to imply meaning. There are many examples like this.

On the flip side, the Mandarin alphabet is much faster to read/write than a Latin alphabet, resulting in a more efficient spread of information, so I suppose you have to pick and choose whether you want your language to be spoken/interpreted more efficiently or read/written more efficiently. Which do you do more, speak/listen or read/write?

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I think some of the languages you mentioned are primitive in nature when compared to English and maybe because of this not widely taught in the States. I have however heard Navajo is quite difficult to learn, regardless of your native language and in a class of its own.

"Primitive"? I think that's a rather arrogant perspective. While it's true that certain phrases may require more sounds when translated literally into other languages, the reverse is also true. English is actually considered one of the most difficult languages to learn, in one study it actually tied with Chinese for second hardest.

There are a lot of other interesting and unique languages out there, but I would be careful about making claims that one language is superior or more evolved than another. Some of those "primitive" languages have features that are more sophisticated than would be possible English. Part of why English is so complicated is that it's the bastard child of several thousand years of raping and pillaging (in both directions). Every time the English-speaking word conquers or is conquered by another culture our language morphs and changes. We adopt new vocabulary, new grammar, and new idioms. ln the process, we have lost any semblance of consistency our language may have ever possessed. We have almost not concept of "regular" verb conjugation.

We also have no consistent morphology. How often have you heard people complain "that's not a word!" in reference to compound words like "unfriend"? In almost any other language this would not be a problem at all, but in English it is. In English compound words are hard because we don't have our own rules for morphology, we rely on the rules of other languages (languages which most English speakers are unfamiliar with). For example, if the root words are Latin then we try to use the Latin morphology, if they're Greek we want to use the Greek morphology, if they're Germanic we use the German morphology, etc. This means that not only do you need to memorize the arbitrary spellings of word and the arbitrary conjugations of words, you also have to memorize the origins of each word and learn the proper morphology of the parent language. (Think of the argument over the plural form of "octopus". Should it be "octopuses" "octopi" "octopodes"?)

The bigger problem comes when you have two roots from completely different linguistic lineage. What do you do then? Which system do you follow?

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English is actually considered one of the most difficult languages to learn, in one study it actually tied with Chinese for second hardest.

Mandarin is a simple language for native English speakers to learn, the difficult part is learning the new script and learning the tones, ie the difficult part is training your vocal chords to replicate their tones and memorizing their script, not learning the structure of the language and how they express ideas.

I actually argue that while English is not as structurally simple as many Asian languages, it's one of the more simple European languages and the Cryillic and Romance languages are generally more difficult and complex than English.

While I believe psychology to be nothing more than a racket, many people in that field would argue that due to the expressive and descriptive nature of most indo European languages, it encourages ideas of creativity and art. I think it's hard to disagree with this.

We have almost not concept of "regular" verb conjugation.

We have many irregular verbs? I don't understand, but I will say the English verb conjugation scheme is one of the pitfalls of English. We leaned towards the Germanic conjugation scheme (2-4 conjugations), when it should have been the more efficient Latin conjugation scheme (6) and our vocal chords pay the price. This is also probably the primary reason that native English speakers have a difficult time with Romantic languages.

Some of those "primitive" languages have features that are more sophisticated than would be possible English.

The examples I can think of for this show just how primitive the languages are. Like the pronouns in Arabic. We have 5 commonly used pronouns in English (well, 6 depending on your dialect) . In Arabic there are 13. Ours is definitely more efficient, but they feel the need to separate genders to a whole new level that doesn't exist outside of Arabic. Imagine every time you used a pronoun, to specify it's gender. So if you want to say "they", they use their own pronouns to imply whether "they" is a group of males or females.

I think your paragraph on morphology pointed out in a broader scheme the lack of rules that English follows as a "mut" language.

I say that while some languages are more efficient than others, none are perfect, and we need to optimize our language. Of course, this is much easier said than done.

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I think some of the languages you mentioned are primitive in nature when compared to English and maybe because of this not widely taught in the States. I have however heard Navajo is quite difficult to learn, regardless of your native language and in a class of its own.

I disagree. Certain languages require a lot more sounds to express a point than others. For example, both Mandarin and Arabic rely heavily on "the if's" to negate conditionality (idda, inn, low in Arabic and jiaru and ruguo in Mandarin) whereas in English and other European languages, we have our own verb tense for that (in addition to the word "if"), resulting in less words being spoken to the same point. Another example that applies to both Mandarin and Arabic is how they differentiate their conceptions of time. They generally use only 3 different verb tenses, where we use about 12 in English (IMO it should be more). They can obviously say everything that we can, they just use more sounds to do it and rely much more on context to imply meaning. There are many examples like this.

On the flip side, the Mandarin alphabet is much faster to read/write than a Latin alphabet, resulting in a more efficient spread of information, so I suppose you have to pick and choose whether you want your language to be spoken/interpreted more efficiently or read/written more efficiently. Which do you do more, speak/listen or read/write?

I was not making any value-judgement regarding the efficiency of the language, just pointing out that non-standard English can be excused when there is a rationale for it such as brevity in text-speak. But where there is no justification there is...well no justification. :rolleyes:

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