Friday, January 07, 2011

txtng txtng123


I have an ambivalent history and relationship with texting. First the brief history:

  • Until recently, our plan was such that each text was charged, something like thirty-five cents. This was because of the need to text primarily to Europe.
  • With so-called unlimited texting now as part of our plan (of course, texting is paid for, but in lump sum), I more readily send and receive texts.
  • I say "more readily," but I am not an agile texter, don't care to be, and my nearly obsolete phone does not facilitate rapid texting.
  • I accept and enjoy the simplicity of texting when I want a very brief exchange -- the same way that a screened message on an old-fashioned answering machine can be both convenient and diplomatic. And it saves time.
  • I recognize that texting is lousy at conveying tone.
  • Texting can also be a total waste of time.
  • K?
Now let's talk briefly about the diction and language of texting:
  • I am neither a scold nor one who is afraid of changes in the language. Language has always been dynamic, including its spelling conventions. English is enriched by slang and other revitalizing influences.
  • I have read that Japanese young women have written best-selling novels as texts.
  • WOW!
  • I have heard that text diction is becoming acceptable in student essays. My view? Not so good. Wrong context. There's a time to wear fancy clothes and a time for grunge. Same with language.
  • As a poet, I like the forced minimalism of texting. You are really driven to cut to the chase, to be telegraphically stark -- not just with wording but also with punctuation. In that sense, it can make you a better self-editor: "I did not need that many words. I certainly did not need such a highfalutin word."
  • But, alas, let us not forgot that just as simpler-than-Hemingway texting has its place so does serpentine and garrulous prose, with qualifiers and asides -- like this! -- as practiced by Proust, Joyce, [note serial comma] Kierkegaard or Faulkner, and that such florid and meandering prose -- which would be hard on one's thumbs -- paints more than thumbnail sketches: more like an intricate pointilism or a broad canvas of curvilinear strokes, dialogue, [note serial comma again] and nuanced depiction, fiction or not.

p.s. Although texting while driving will make you or others a post-factum postscript, many people persist in doing it, thinking, "I CN HNDLE IT."

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