I doubt millennials could write a complete sentence without shortening a few words in it. You can’t talk about your BFF who’s SOL 2MORO without OMG ROFLMAO, LOL? But if you think about it, acronyms were just the beginning of these often used words and phrases.
The military is very bad at using acronyms for everything and, though military journalists are taught not to use them, they find their way into anything and everything. Speaking as a “DINFOS Trained Killer” I can honestly say acronyms are overused more often than not.
To give you an example: When I was on active duty, I worked for the PAO at SACLANT, the NATO HQ in NORVA at NSA Hampton Roads, next to FFSC, SUBFOR, MARFORCOM and JFCOM. (If you can decipher every acronym in that sentence, post in the comments below. First correct answer gets a free ebook of my novel, The Dark Tides.)
Of course, writers are taught to spell it out and not use acronyms, but that still hasn’t changed the new acronyms in texting. Now that texting terms have been added to the dictionary, it makes it even worse.
Can you imagine Shakespeare using texting terminology to write his great plays? “2b? Nt2b? ???” “Romeo, Romeo _ wher4 Rt thou Romeo?”
Though many may dismiss texting terminology as cheat notes for an attention-deficit generation, John Sutherland, a University College London English professor, said “they could act as a useful memory aid.”
I understand the methodology behind that, but to me, texting is dumbing down a generation. English is slowly becoming a language where soliloquies and poems are a thing of the past. Short quips, sarcasm and verbal trolling are the new norm.
Mark Zusak, author of The Book Thief, wrote “The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this.” That speaks volumes about the importance of words in our lives, our culture, our very existence.
I remember as a boy, growing up in the 70s/80s, my parents and teachers telling me that slang was the beginning of the end of the English language. Those words were very prophetic as I look at the slang of today in text messages.
We are becoming a culture of 140 characters or less, losing the history of today’s generation to a megabit of data.