By: Rachel Lyle, June 30th, 2017
For my History of the English Language class at DelVal I had to do a semester long project. Part of this project was to do a short presentation for the class. Before this presentation we had to pick an article or two which the presentation was based on for the teacher to send out to the class to read ahead of time. My topic was Texting in Literature and I picked to articles, here are the summaries of the two.
The first article is called “Is Texting Killing the English Language?” This article is about how texting is getting more and more popular but is at the same time getting more and more controversial as well.
Many young people today deem texting as the accepted form of communication and it is continuing to grow as one of the main forms of communication in society today. despite its popularity it is causing controversies as well. Many people believe hit is killing the english language and making people illiterate. It is in a way a spoken language and is continuing to become a culture of its own, it develops and changes as it becomes more popular. Words, phrases and abbreviations go in and out of style and change meaning in the same way they do in any other language. In the word son John Mcwhorter, “Texting has long been bemoaned as the downfall of the written word, “penmanship for illiterates,” as one critic called it. To which the proper response is LOL. Texting properly isn’t writing at all — it’s actually more akin to spoken language. And it’s a “spoken” language that is getting richer and more complex by the year.” (Mcwhorter).
No one actually talks texts but we don’t speak the way we write, even in proper English. Spoken language has been around for about 80,000 years and written language can be traced back to about 5,500 years and even then people did not write the way they talked. According to John McWhorter, “Over time, writers took advantage of this and started crafting tapeworm sentences such as this one, from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: ‘The whole engagement lasted above 12 hours, till the gradual retreat of the Persians was changed into a disorderly flight, of which the shameful example was given by the principal leaders and the Surenas himself.’” (McWhorter). Even when texting the words an phrases are not always literal. LOL doesn’t mean actually laughing out loud and I’m dying doesn’t actually mean your literally dying. They are just things to ease tension and empathize between people texting. this all shows that there is truly no evidence that texting is killing the English language.
The second article was called “Yolo Juliet, Macbeth’s #killingit: Academics horrified at ‘dumbing down’ of Shakespeare as the Bard’s greatest works are retold in EMOJI.” Which is about how text language is leaking into literature and dumbing down our education and taking Shakespeare out of Shakespeare.
Penguin Random house has recently published a series of books called OMG Shakespeare. These books have attempted to make Shakespeare easier to understand for younger readers and those who have a hard time reading in the first place. This series is made of four books called YOLO Juliet, Macbeth #Killing it, srsly Hamlet, and A Midsummer Night #nofilter and it attempts to make Shakespeare easier to read by rewriting it in a series of texting conversations. Many people like the idea of making it easier to understand because texting is becoming more and more popular and many younger people and teenagers are using it as their main form of communication. People see it as a kind of literature that most people of the younger generation
will understand and find more interesting and they believe that doing this makes it more accessible to people who wouldn’t normally understand Shakespeare in general. In YOLO Juliet, Juliet in one of the many balcony scenes says she hearts Romeo and Marcellus in srsly Hamlet takes a picture of the dead kings ghost and sends it to Horatio and Bernardo.
Despite all of the good praise this series it gets it also gets a lot of bad criticisms. According to Ollie Gillman, “Professor Alan Smithers, Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said OMG Shakespeare was another sign of the ‘dumbing down’ of education.” (Gillman). Smithers claims the attempt s disastrous and takes Shakespeare out of Shakespeare. He gives credit to those who attempted saying that it was a great concept and a good idea to make it more accessible but it didn’t turn out so well. he claims that, “‘Shakespeare is about the story that is told, but is more to do with the rhythm of the prose and the language used.’” (Gillman). So clearly no one actually talked the way Shakespeare wrote but it is about the art surrounding the language used in his plays. this ties back to the way no one talks in texting language but it is in itself a language and a culture the same way Shakespeare’s plays were their own language and culture. Smithers also said that it can made more accessible in other ways, “‘I remember when they tried to recreate the Bible as a cartoon and this sounds similar. While part of the idea is useful, you lose the real literature behind it. It will be the same with Shakespeare. So yes, let’s make Shakespeare more accessible to children and students – but let’s do it with better teaching.’” (Gillman). So texting in literature can be a good thing and can appeal to many people of the current younger generation but it the way it is implemented can turn out to be very controversial.