In his text, John Humphry's decries what has happened to the English language. The book explores the change in which the English language has evolved in the past two decades, giving us an insight as to how society functioned in those days. Baron implies the shift in control brought about by the shift in attitude, for instance, taking us back to a time when society was starting to worry about the effect of modern communication technology on language and communication. As the author mentions in the first pages, that books and texts of any form of literature were written to detail events that a deviation from the normal words and sentences was deemed in some way inappropriate (pg.2). The letter by Humphrey illustrates the change in the manner of speech and writing being carried out by the society in the modern century.
Communication happens through several means of understanding according to Baron, (2000). The shifts in literary styles as perceived by the listener determine what the listener makes of the speech. With the advent of digital media, there are several sharp shifts in the way communication is carried out today unlike in the past when simple English, for instance, was used as a standard in every communication theatre. These trends include the influence on writing and reading skills, especially in young people by digital media such as instant messaging and the social media of today. Humphry's argument is not completely relevant to an academic audience due to a variety of reasons as discussed below.
John Humphry's' 2007 article, "I h8 txt msgs: How texting is wrecking our language" is one example validating Baron's observation of changes in language brought about by the digital media. In the article written only seven years after Baron's, the initial worries about modern communication technology ruining the young generations' reading and writing are seconded albeit with examples of actual scenarios. Humphrey's assessment completely agrees with the former's initial scrutiny, sarcastically criticizing the current generations' communication trends that are wreaking the English language. He brings forth evidence of the ways in which written language today has changed from the old times, citing the popularity of emoticons, ever-changing abbreviations and what he terms as 'speak-texting' among the youths of today. These elements according to him, have even become more common in recent times, and show no sign of stopping in the near future as they are widely adopted in every section of the society as the new trend.
Humphrey further furnishes the readers with more specific examples of the nature in which the damage to formal language and communication by the mainstream text messaging to the extent of limiting young learners' abilities when it comes to writing. For instance, he cheekily revealing how he has habitually been a victim of unconsciously using abandoning capital letters and dots, (pg. 4). He also finishes his article by citing a previous incident in which a young girl he knew named Mary who 'texted day and night but when it came to exams, she forgot how to write'. He, however, does not believe that the lack of enough time is the cause of this deterioration in language.
Humphrey's argument that the modern means of communication social trends enabled by technology have eroded our writing and reading skills are totally relevant as we have witnessed in recent times. It is not uncommon in modern times to see people incorporating acronyms into everyday language especially when texting. Acronyms such as those she uses including the word "newspaper", which according to her and similar to many other words, began as two words ("news" and "paper") before progressing to having a hyphen ("news-paper") before finally becoming a single word ("newspaper") (Baron 171). The diminished concern over spelling and punctuation is also another damage that has become common practice brought about by the instant messaging technology. Indeed, people have developed a shift in attitude as described in Baron (Pg. 172), leading to the normalization of these trends. Furthermore, there is decreased certainty when using compound and string words such as what is happening to words like "pigeonhole" (formerly in the dictionary as "pigeon-hole") and "leapfrog" (formerly "leap-frog"), as noted by Humphry's. However, these may simply be a normal process as opposed to a concern for academic audiences.
All these trends as witnessed among today's' people, who have over time normalized the damages along the way serve to validate the relevance of John Humphreys' argument that modern communication technology has eroded the abilities of especially the youth to formally express themselves when required, both in reading and in writing. Furthermore, many of the audiences of the modern generation would agree with Humphrey's assertion that it is not rather the lack of enough time to write in a formal manner, but rather is due to the normalization of these trends that lead to a shift in the attitude we have towards language and communication (Vosloo, 2009). It could thus be concluded that the author's argument on the manner in which instant messaging technology has negatively affected the reading and writing skills is relevant since these ideas resonate better with the audience themselves, especially the youth.
Baron, Naomi S. "Are Digital Media Changing Language?." Educational Leadership 66.6 (2009): 42-46.
Baron, Naomi. "Are Digital Media Changing Language?". Language Diversity and Academic Writing, edited by Samantha Looker- Koenings, Bedford, 2018, pp. 170-76
Humphrys, J. "I h8 txt msgs: How texting is wrecking our language. Mail Online." (2007).
Lewin-Jones, Jenny, and Victoria Mason. "Understanding style, language and etiquette in email communication in higher education: a survey." Research in Post-Compulsory Education 19.1 (2014): 75-90.
Vosloo, Steve. "The effects of texting on literacy: Modern scourge or opportunity." Shuttleworth Foundation (2009): 2-6.
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