Again, I say…

Here’s something I wrote back in 2006 regarding text speak. PinoyExchange (PEx) implemented a strict rule of not allowing text speak in the forums. It brought to mind my complaints about people who use text speak and sticky caps (the alternate capital and lowercase typing) online, so I wrote this.

Text speak was born out of necessity. Earlier mobile phones allowed only 160 characters per message, and more enterprising users resorted to creating shortcuts for words. Many of these shortcuts have been around for quite sometime and are universally accepted and were used for ads, nicknames etc. Numbers replaced words that sound the same, and the same goes for symbols. When texting in Filipino, words became much shorter. “ABNKKBSANAko?” is already a complete statement expressing amazement that one can now read.

What irks me are those who write text-speak outside SMS. I’ve come across several blogs (out of politeness I am not posting their names here, but if you browse my Multiply account, chances are you might come across them), received several email and even had IM conversations with people who use text speak. It is not an easy feat to read what they said. Not only do I have to understand what was written, I have to first decipher it. What’s bad is if they don’t use the conventional shortcuts, or use shortcuts I have never seen before.

What I don’t understand is how can these people do it? I’ve tried to type text speak on a letter, but I had a really had time. Maybe it’s just me, as I’m used to typing, given the practice I’ve had over the years, and I suppose my mind has unconsciously memorized the layout of the keyboard I can type without having to look down on it. But really, it takes more effort to think about what the text speak is and then typing it out on a full keyboard than just typing everything out right.

Here’s another kicker. hOw CaN pEoPle TyPe fUlL pArAgRaPhS WiTh ThE lEtTeRs In AlTeRnAtInG cApS? Hold shift, type the letter. Let go of the shift, then type the letter. Repeat. The time it takes for me to type that sentence would normally give me three or more sentences in regular fonts.

Oddly enough, I can text speak on my mobile with ease, though I rarely do that. I input the words out completely too. Text speak is acceptable when used in mobile phones, as that what they were created for in the first place (but hey, with more phones coming out that can handle 300+ characters, who needs to use text speak?). Maybe for design purposes, I can let it pass, but if you write me an email in that format, I’m going to request you to retype everything before I’ll read it.

I don’t speak or make sulat ferpect write perfect English, but I love the written word, and as a (aspiring) writer and having grandparents who were English teachers, I know the value of the written word and the joy one gets when reading something that is well written.

How ironic it is for a country that prides itself as having English as its second language, and despite the boom of the call center industry, studies show that when it comes to proper usage, spelling and grammar, the number is declining. Don’t you find it funny that we spend so many years in school studying English and we end up throwing it out the door just like that?

I’m all for PEx’s new policy. I’m not being a snob. Take note it doesn’t ban the use of Taglish or the Filipino language, bt rthr d use of d txtspk tht cn b a bit dffclt 4 a # of ppl — lyk me — out der.

I decided to look for this entry while I was listening to the Pakbet’s latest podcast. I reiterate that there are alot of people, young people specifically, who can communicate in English and get their point across but not in a way that you can call competitive and effective. What’s worse is that in many cases, it’s not just teens who write this way, but adults too. Now that’s scary.

Visual lesson
Inspired by WordBoner, I present to you my “Same sound, different meaning” er, graphics. We occasionally commit the error of writing words that sound like the one we need, but spelling-wise means something else. I can’t say that I don’t make these mistakes, but I try not to… and I don’t make the excuse “English is not my main language.” Ah well.