Santa Clara: Winston Churchill had quoted that, short words are the best, and the old words the best of all. We guess today's generation got inspired by the first half of the quote that 'short words are the best.'
Facebook limits status updates to 420 characters, SMS limits users to use 160 characters, and Twitter has a limit of 140 characters. Is the limit to 140 characters in Twitter, changing the way we write and speak?
Shakespeare was credited with introducing over 3,000 words to the English dictionary; but today's generation's vocabulary is limited to just 800 words per day, making them unemployable.
Today's teenagers avoid using a broad vocabulary and complex words and favor abbreviated words. The main concern is that school kids are so used to using alphanumeric characters instead of full words, that they use the same 'short' language in the examinations. The overall level of the language has fallen drastically; and teens are now devising their words and language.
Teachers can see an increase in the number of students using 'u' for 'you', 'r' for 'are', 'b4u' for 'before you' and many more. A report published by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance in 2004 had disclosed that more than 700,000 english scripts marked that year had text spelling mistakes like 'u' for 'you'.
The proof of the usage of text messaging language in exams increased after a student handed an essay written completely in text message shorthand, much to the bemusement of the teacher. One extract said "My smmr hols were Kewl. B4, v usd2go2NY 2c my bro, his gf & thr 3 kids. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc." (My summer holidays were cool. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three kids. I love New York, it is a great place.")
The satirical Christian online magazine Ship of Fools, once ran a competition to re-write the Lord's Prayer in 160 characters or less-the length of a mobile text message. The winner, Mather Campbell or York University, condensed it thus: dad@hvn, ur spshl. we want wot u want &urth2b like hvn. giv us food & 4giv r sins lyk we 5gv uvaz. don't test us! save us! bcos we kno ur boss, ur tuf & ur cool 4 eva! ok?
Surely such treatments would make epic such as Tolstoy's War and Peace-at present a whopping 1,400+ pages-into a handy pocket-sized read. But, linguistics experts feel that such a move would spoil the pleasure of reading, having to work out all the abbreviations, and would be aimed just at the teenage markets.
The world has witnessed an increase in the number of abbreviations being widely-accepted-gathering information from web pages as 'googling' or 'wiking'; i.e. personification of the social networking trend itself. People have become "peeps", social gathering through twitter has become 'tweetups', and so on.
There have been protests from language-lovers all across the globe, who feel that word limit on various social networking sites along with incessant texting has hampered the comprehension skills of the students.
The trend has not spared the adults, as there is a growing trend of writing novels on Twitter, where they tweet the story to build the curiosity of their readers. There is a growing trend to familiarize parents with the text language.
But, not many would agree that reducing the word limit has hampered the comprehension skills of people. The truth is that Twitter forces people to write and think succinctly, which is a good thing in a way. People get to the point quicker and then back up their points on their blogs or in conversations.
In places like UK, plans were to launch a national campaign to prevent children from failing in the examinations due to the inability to express themselves. While the Scottish Qualifications Authority had mentioned that the usage of phrases like '2b r nt 2b' or 'I lv u' in exam papers would be allowed as long as candidates showed that they understood the subject.
With 200 million Twitter users, 750 million Facebook users and huge numbers on other social networking sites as well, it won't be surprising if the Oxford dictionary would have to release a new edition with the commonly used short forms of words.
The older generation complains about the alleged incompetence or inferiority of the youth, which has always been around. Even Plato and Socrates entertained these complaints, despite the fact that Twitter and Facebook were not even blips on the radar until a few years ago.