Thursday, February 19, 2009

Writers Workshop: My Biggest Pet Peeve

Among those writing prompts listed over at Mama Kat's blog was this little gem:

"What's your number one pet peeve? Develop a punishment for anyone caught in the act."

This one required a lot of thought, Kittens. I have a rawther big pet peeve, but I was debating in my mind what the punishment should be.

I can't stand text messaging. I really, really loathe it and the lexicon that is used, such as IDK, OMG, BTW, LOL, and BFF. I realize why this was developed, because many text messaging plans only allow you to use a limited number of characters per message, but I absolutely loathe when people use phrases such as: "R U going 2 da rstrnt 2 nite?"

My best friend and my friend K are the only people I know, besides myself, who text message using correct spelling, grammar, and complete sentences. I know it takes us a lot longer to text than the average person, but to me, there's absolutely no excuse for poor grammar or spelling. I have a friend who graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa, has a master's from Harvard, and she resorts to the classic abbreviated texting lexicon. Ironic, dontcha think?

What especially bothers me is that this texting lexicon has permeated standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Because of this, our language is "de-volving." Fifty years from now, our language will be reduced to a series of grunts and nonsensical words made up of only three letters. Imagine this conversation in your local grocery store:

CUSTOMER: OMG, no fnd da chz. Wrz it?
EMPLOYEE: IDK. Nxt 2 mlk, I tink.
CUSTOMER: OK, BRB. appropriate punishment, shall we say? I have the perfect solution, and it all comes courtesy of my English teacher from my freshman year of high school (not the one I've mentioned on the blog before, a different lady).

My English teacher from my freshman year of high school made us diagram sentences ad nauseum. At the time, I hated every moment of it, but now, I appreciate it. I know the difference between an adjective and an adverb, subject and predicate, and dependent and independent clauses. I will admit that diagramming sentences is not fun; it's boring. And what could be a more boring activity on a Saturday night than diagramming sentences?

So here's how the punishment rolls out: first-time bad grammar offenders will be sent to the slammer from Friday at 5 PM till Sunday at 5 PM. During their confinement, their cell phones will be taken away so they won't be able to text. They will then spend the next 48 hours in solitary confinement, in a windowless room, with nothing but a desk, paper, a writing utensil, and Warriner's English Grammar and Composition. They will do nothing but diagram sentences for 48 hours straight.

And 48 hours is just the minimum sentence. If, after 48 hours they can't diagram a sentence or haven't mastered the proper rules of English grammar, they have to stay in the slammer till they get it right.

The grammar prison is supervised by a trifecta of wardens. In addition to my English teachers from my freshman and sophomore years of high school, they have the strictest warden of all: my mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat was an English major, and while she never taught, she was the utmost grammarian. She constantly corrected my improper grammar when I was growing up, and I am a much better person for it. She always read my papers, and was absolutely vicious with the red pen.

Here's how the wardens work: the English teachers inspect the offenders' sentences. When they give the OK to their work, they turn it over to Mama Cat for final inspection. My mama will wield her red pen, and even if she finds one minor mistake, back to the cell the offenders go. If mama gives the OK, then the offenders may leave grammar prison.

However, once the reformed grammarians leave grammar prison, their text messages will be monitored. A board of retired English teachers will work with computer programmers to carry out this mammoth job. If anyone is caught with bad grammar in their text messages, then they have to check into the William Safire Center for Grammar Rehabilitation for a minimum 30-day stay.

Now Kittens, I am not perfect, and I have been guilty of using bad grammar and spelling in much of my posting. I occasionally use the terms "BFF" and "LOL", but I don't make it a standard part of my writing. I used the word "dontcha" earlier in my post for stylistic effect, but that's about the limit to my misspellings.

So Kittens, do yourselves a favor: If you currently employ texting lexicon on a regular basis in your posting, watch out. My mama and I will come after you with the Warriner's Grammar sooner than you think!


drollgirl said...

You are hilarious. Under your regime, those prisons and rehab centers will be fully booked forever!

Aileigh said...

OMG, U Hve 2 sty awy frm my blg! My txt is btr, tho! LOL!

Just kidding! I type out my full words when texting too! My grammar may not be the best, but I at least try to make sure I spell right! I do use some country twang misspellings for my own effect though. You can just lock me up and throw away the key! :) BTW, cn I brng my lptp?

CDB said...

This is fantastic, and I am SO there with you on texting. I have a friend that texts me from her Blackberry and it shows up in 1,000 texts on my phone.

I found you from Belle but I did the same prompt today!

NurseExec said...

Your punishment would suck! Makes me glad that I use complete sentences when I text. I can't stand all those abbreviations, either!

Kitten said...

Drollgirl: I'd be rich from all of the grammar rehab centers I'd build across the world. The problem, however, would be staffing. Where am I gonna find grammar rehab counselors?

Aileigh: I checked and double checked this post to make sure everything was spelled right. I didn't want to embarrass myself.

Oh, and no laptops. Too much temptation to use MS word for spell and grammar check.

CDB: 1,000 texts? In one day? That's a helluva lot of texting!

NurseExec: I purposely chose a weekend punishment so that the message would be reinforced.

Jodi said...

I'll use LOL in posts but never in text messages. I also use OMG but in posts or emails.

This one girl I know texted me back the letter K for OK. I don't understand why it would have taken so much energy to put an O in front of the K. Then she replied to another one I kno. WHERE is the W? I just don't understand it. I think she wanted to drive me insane.

Anonymous said...

I text in full sentences. Boyfriend does not, which is sometimes cute and sometimes annoying. Your punishments are harsh, but everyone should be able to diagram a sentence.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

Vickie said...

I admit it. I occasionally use the abbreviated text in my texting and in my comments. I will try to keep it in check.

But, I am gonna blame peer pressure:)

Jenners said...

Wow ... what an elaborate and well-thought out punishment! Been thinking a lot about this? Or ... you could just cut off their thumbs. I believe that is how you text .. I don't do it really because I am 41 years old and I believe I am constitutionally prohibited from texting. LOL. Da shnizzle. I can't even think of any. I could barely understand the ones you put in ur post.

Mimi Lenox said...

I'm afraid to type anything. Please don't get out your red pen....