Words, Words and Grammar Nerds

I believe people still like to read well-written pieces rich in detail and explanation — even in a world filled with the abbreviated language of emails, texts and tweets. Sure, there is a place for such quick and short missives, but a lot gets left to interpretation.

Any written communication, no matter how compact, needs to be clear, leaving nothing to assumption or conjecture. However, we all have selective perception and retention, so even the best and most complete written communication can be interpreted in many different ways. Still, the writer should try for lucidity and clarity.

That said, I know there is a whole new lexicon out there — one with which I am not all that familiar. Most of my knowledge comes from my two teenage daughters, who text at light speed in a way that reminds me of Morse code. Tap, tap, tap…dot…dash. Their preferred language has been so shortened to satisfy an instant gratification culture that is springing up like morels in a Midwestern spring.

For example, when did “K” come into acceptance as “OK?” Okay became OK and now is K. I appreciate that sometimes immediacy tops languishing in language — such as when responding to a request from Dad to meet him at the doors to the shopping mall. That is, until I’ve been sitting for 10 minutes and there’s no further explanation. What did “K” really mean, I wonder — “Thanks for letting me know where you are?” It certainly wasn’t “Be right there.”

We’ve all come to accept less than stellar language in texting. After all, many of these messages are being typed while the author is driving 55 mph on the highway. That’s another issue: Do we need to communicate so quickly that we endanger others on the roadways? Recently, I saw someone texting in a construction zone where a pothole repair was underway. Those highway workers are brave souls.

The new (now old) technology is amazing — it allows us to remain in contact with almost everyone all the time. Sometimes, on my long drive to and from work, I harken back to the time when you actually were able to think in the car and listen to FM radio. Today, it’s voice activation, satellite radio and instantaneous everything.

My point is simple: Even short needs to be clear, even at warp speed.

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