In today’s world of instant gratification and limited characters (also known as a limited attention span), it is no surprise that a pop culture version of shorthand has been created. What started off as a few innocent abbreviations like “lol” and “btw” (those stand for “laughing out loud” and “by the way” for those who are blissfully unaware!), quickly morphed into a myriad of letter combinations that rival any language of the modern era.
Now, don’t get this ranter wrong. I use many of these acronyms in my personal life on a fairly regular basis. It is very common for me to use “lol” when I find something funny during a chat conversation or to even say out loud “brb” if I need to exit a situation for a moment. What scares me and prompted this rant, however, is that many of these slang terms, abbreviations and acronyms are being learned and accepted as real words!
I remember when it was scary that “ain’t” became a word in the dictionary! (Anyone else thinking to themselves, “ain’t ain’t a word ‘cause it ain’t in the dictionary”?) Now, young people are growing up with words like “totes” and “perf” and – shudder – “bae” being used in normal lexicon, because they need maximum output from 140 characters. Even fewer if they’re using Snapchat! And no, “totes” is not the plural form of tote meaning a large single pocket bag, or the present form of the verb tote meaning to carry.
I’m all for this generation having their lingo, but with the understanding that “bae” is not a word. It’s an abbreviation of three real words – before anything/anyone else. It is my hope that as difficult as it is, and as seemingly backwards as it can be sometimes, we don’t lose the English language to texts and tweets and snaps. But that is another rant for another time…
[…] Starting with point A, let me say that I could easily dig up 100 memes and rant about the grammar of each one. Rather than write a dissertation, I’m focusing on three broad aspects. First is the fact that the text included on images is rarely a full sentence. I argue that many are not even full thoughts. Second is the atrocious use of – or lack of – punctuation. I understand these are short snippets of text if not more of a “title”, but is it so hard to put a question mark or period at the end? Commas are a whole separate battle, but end punctuation leads to my third and final gripe. Memes often leave us hanging. Is it a question? Is it a statement? What does “when bae walks toward you” really mean?! (See side rant on terms like “bae” here.) […]