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Textual Healing

When future cultural anthropologists are sifting through the
artifacts of the 21st century, to use a rather tired linguistic
cliché, they may very well find the record of our downfall in the
breakdown of our language.
No doubt they will focus not on the noble
prose of an advanced people, but on the textual vomit that was "2 L8 2
B OF N E GOOD." Something like the language people use while sending
text messages is all too obvious in it's inept disintegration of
language, but it's often apparent in other cases as well.

The incorrect use of punctuation is an all too common occurrence. I
was driving through the deep south a few years ago, when I saw a store
window advertising "Milk." Quotation marks used in this way would,
obviously, be correct were the liquid in question anything but milk,
which, in fact it was. Quotation marks have a wide variety of correct
uses, none of which is in play here. What would your reaction be if a
pet store was advertising a special on "Cats?" If you are anything
like me, you might assume that the animal in question was some sort of
strange hybrid or genetically mutated species. Which brings up the
separate ethics surrounding all of these "Puggledor Retrievers," and
"Poodlewich McInbreds" that seem to be spreading like, well,
laboratory spawned heel candy. Although the whole playing god thing
doesn't seem to be as frowned upon as when a certain mad doctor was
bringing spare body parts to life, I have a feeling that the
inevitable result of these trendy little lap warmers is going remind
us all of the Olestra fiasco, but with malfunctioning kitten brains
instead of anal leakage.

You may not think so, but the incorrect usage of punctuation can
actually be a very dangerous thing. In referring to her wonderful book
"Eats, Shoots & Leaves," author Lynne Trusse gives this example:

-A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a
gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
"Why?" asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the
panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated
wildlife guide and tosses it over his shoulder.
"Well, I'm a panda," he says at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough,
finds an explanation. "Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal,
native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."-

The emphasis here is obviously on the fact that the wildlife guide is
badly punctuated, thus leading to the rather unfortunate loss of one
of these magestic and amazingly literal minded animals. Now I know
that not every misuse or abuse of the English language is going to get
someone killed, but I feel like at least one of my brain cells dies
every time I have to put up with yet another "Kwik Shop" selling

There is yet another discovery for the future generation to endlessly
puzzle over, the rather strange way that the term "Product" is used
when referring to hair care. I can not think of a single other
industry that has the gall to simply say "Product," and not feel the
need to elaborate. How much time would be wasted at the local mechanic
if they told you: "Well, your moving part is done busted, and the area
is worn through. Our best bet is that you need some stuff, of which we
recommend the one with the added ingredient. You need the added
ingredient, because it makes the first ingredient work all that much
better, trust us on that one." We would never stand for that, but we
think nothing of it at the salon.

In the end, we as a modern society need to hold on to the advances in
language that got us where we are, and never lose sight of what could
happen if we let everything slowly deteriorate to some sort of
grunting finale. Remember: U R NOT 2 L8 2 B AWARE OF THE POWER OF

address: address: SE Portland



so, what's your point? that "good" puctuation and spelling as is in the dictionary is the best way to right on some great measure of quality?

first of all, language didn't always look like this, like shapes that represented sounds with spaces in between. Literacy is useful, it is empowering, it builds critical thinking and the ability to read the words of people in different places and times. But it is an artifact that we use to convey meaning. Even written language didn't have each letter identical like the text you are seeing now: that came from the printing press.

There is no denying that literacy helped overthrow the catholic church and it helped people read revolutionary texts but let us not forget that the rise of the nation states happened because of the standarization of language that writting provided.

For example, the language that we call "Italian" was one of thousands of languages spoken in the area we now call "Italy" the rise of the Nation State was accompanied by the imposition of one language on many and the result was that many different cultures where revised as one culture with one mythical history. Standardization is a tool and slang, word play, and the adaption of language to new mediums and contexts is essential.

Concider the Oxford English Dictionary (one of the few dictionaries not interested in standardizing english but in describing it as it changes over time)under spellings for the word "leaf" it gives:

Pl. leaves (li{lm}vz). Forms: {alpha}. sing. 1 léaf, 2-4 lef, 3 (6) leif, (3 lief, lieif, 4 lyeave), 3-6 lefe, (3 leve), 4-5 leyf, leff, (4 lyf), 4-6 leef, (4, 6 leof), 6 leaffe, leefe, (leave, laif), 6-7 leafe, 3- leaf. {beta}. pl. 1 léaf, Northumb. léofo, hléofa, léofa, 3-4 levis, 3-6 leves, (4 leeves), 4 lewes, Sc. leivis, lewis, 5 lewys, 4-5 levys, (5 leevys), 6 Sc. levis, 5 le(e)fes, 6 leaffes, 7-8 leafs, 8 leafes, 6- leaves.

are these wrong or incorrect? all this variety, evolution, diversity. yes different spellings separate us, but they also help us. It is very possible that txting is the beginning of a standardized language for the globalized world and THAT's not so good, but it also is the begining of something else.

it is efficient in that a few letters can convey a lot of info, more like chinese characters in that way. As more and more people get used to this, it may appear to you that the language is dying, but it also means that the use of text for communicating is apapting to new tools. As someone who has activist sentiments (since you are posting on indymedia) i would think that you should be learning to text as it may help us in resistance to the government and corporate powers.

already cell phones and texting have helped overthrow governements and change the outcome of elections. The US is one of the few places where txting isnt widespread but it will be and i think that it is for the best. Read "Smart Mobs" to learn about more revolutionary examples of what the IM and TXT technologies have done for movements.

"already cell phones and texting have helped overthrow governements [sic]" 20.Jan.2007 13:04


where? and when?

also, have you ever heard of company named Diebold?

examples 20.Jan.2007 20:28


In the Philipines for example, where the majority of people use cell phones because they are much cheaper there than landlines forwarded millions of messages. In 2001 the legislature stopped the impeachment process for President Estrada. The call to mobilize went out through the txt-mail and many thousands of people took to the streets and shut down the capital until he was removed from office.

 link to www.smartmobs.com
although the results were not perfect:
 link to www.smartmobs.com

In south Korea, the use of txt and smartmobs probably changed the outcome of the presidential elections. I'm not saying the result was the best, but it is show the potential of a new power.
 link to www.smartmobs.com
 link to www.smartmobs.com

another example: I was in San Fransisco at the big anti-war shutdown in 2003 and we used txt-messaging to coordinate between clusters, affinity groups, bike messangers, and people in lockdown.