August 26, 2010

In Decline

It is interesting to see the Internet, primarily via Twitter, beginning to restore what amounts almost to declensions — or at the very least appositive particles — to finesse on-line language in the byte-sized space of tweets.

How fascinating, for instance to find the use of the hash-mark (#) adapted to serve function analogous to the Japanese ga or wa — as a topic or subject marker.

More sinister is the use of the at-sign (@) as a substitute for the old vocative “O” — imagine that! O tempore! o mores! The problem is that as many tweets and blog-comments devolve, talking at is replacing talking to, for which the ready symbol is the trusty numeral. So, 2myreaders, might I suggest even better that we talk with one another, and apply the friendly ampersand (&)? Are you &me?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


John Sims said...

I will freely confess to being a Luddite when it comes to the English language. I find text messaging incredibly useful but I refuse to condense or mispell words or to eschew proper grammar and punctuation. It may take me a little longer to type my messages but at least you can read them when you receive them!

susan s. said...

Oh Tobias, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who can't spell whole words correctly. Twitter gives those people a place and excuse for not having to spell. I do not twitter. I do use facebook and have recently learned that where there are so many comments at one status update the @ sign helps target the person whose comment needs an answer. I will never catch up 2yu!

John-Julian, OJN said...


Deep-six Twitter!

And FaceBook!

And YouTube!

And all the other short-cuts.

Ormonde Plater said...

Tobias, can you write a poem in @ or & language?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

John, one need not be a Luddite to cringe at the proliferation of acronyms, emoticons, smilies, and punctuation marks that begin to make text look like comic swearing from Beetle Bailey.

Susan, my proposal was whimsical; still, I think it good to recognize that language does evolve, and that even our present array of punctuation (?,:;.! &c) serves to denote, in European language, much what the emoticons and other symbols do, as grammatical or syntactic functions. I think as well of how the circumflex and tilde came to substitute for other letters -- though this is orthography, not syntax. Then there are those scholarly abbreviations from Latin, that serve their purposes, e.g.: i.e., etc.

Fr JJ, an extreme proposal, but one which may happen to all of these under their own weight!

Deacon O., it would be fun. But you remind me of this charming sonnet by George Starbuck, in which each line begins with O but ends with the sound of "o" but with a different spelling (or even an implied pronunciation of an abbreviation!). So in honor of your Christian name's initial:

Sonnet with a different letter at the end of every line

O for a muse of fire, a sack of dough,
Or both! O promissory notes of woe!
One time in Santa Fe, N.M.,
Ol’ Winfield Townley Scott and I … But whoa.

One can exert oneself, ff,
Or architect a heaven like Rimbaud,
Or if that seems, how shall I say, de trop,
One can at least write sonnets, a propos
Of nothing save the do-re-mi-fa-sol
Of poetry itself. Is not the row
Of perfect rhymes, the terminal bon mot,
Obeisance enough to the Great O?

‘Observe,’ said Chairman Mao to Premier Chou,
‘On voyage à Parnasse pour prendre les eaux.
On voyage comme poisson, incog.’

The Religious Pícaro said...

OMG, Tobias! XLent! LOL!