Hot Topic – Push Button With Care

Wow – yesterday’s post generated 76 LJ comments overnight. I think that may be a record. They are fascinating to read through. Thank you everyone for sharing your opinion about this.

After dinner last night, I wrote back to her. I decided that this was indeed a “teachable moment” and if I was going to complain about emails like this, I should reach out and try to help. MySpace said Courtney was online when I sent it.

“Dear Courtney,

Are you sure that you want to write a “different” paper? Because I have a very interesting idea if you do.

Laurie Halse Anderson

PS – When you write back, please don’t use the abbreviations you use when texting your friends. I really love English, punctuation and all. Yes, I know it’s a pain, but that’s what you have to deal with if you write to an author.”

So far, she hasn’t written back. I suspect she won’t because I am certain the paper was due yesterday.

I think I need a new page on the web site. I could title it: “kan i rite 2 u?” The page will explain the no-homework policy and give kids the basic facts they want for papers as well as links to more information. And it will gently point out the differences between formal and informal writing styles.

As to ‘s post about language evolution, I am tempted to agree, but I think it is too soon to tell. The technology that is fueling these abbreviations and linguistic short-cuts is itself rapidly evolving. I don’t think the teenagers in ten years will be using the same kinds of phones or IMing to communicate, so I don’t think this language will stick around.

I predict that in ten years, the FaceBook equivalent will have groups called “u gru up in teh 00s if u rite lik dis.” And people will chuckle fondly.

Have any of you shared this with your students? What did they say?
Any last thoughts?

27 Replies to “Hot Topic – Push Button With Care”

  1. Oh, and I spoke with my 14 year old and he said he doesn’t even use the abbreviated text when he is texting unless he is really in a hurry. He thinks it is annoying.

  2. Many authors have their books printed in differant languages Spanish, Brazil, Chinese, etc….(better to reach a wider audience for both the author and the publisher)

    The way this text message language is spreading amongst our youth these days I am surprised publishers aren’t offering books in this new format as well.

    Would make for much shorter versions for one thing. ha ha ha

  3. And you are to be commended for NOT deleting her email.
    Obviously somewhere along the road she has slipped into the abbreviation fad thinking its cool (which , for now, it is) but when she and all her peers try to find work this abbreviation habit will probably haunt them trying to get work and then they’ll have trouble.

    One of the problems of course is that the media and advertisers (especially cell phone companies) in the constant hunt for the money from this prime demographic group just gear their ads towards them instead of KEEPING the full language of English intact.

    Its all just another chipping away of our National Literacy Crisis and nobody (except conciencious authors such as yourself) seems to care.

    If anything–you may miss HER but any new fans of your work might visit this site and get the message and pass it along.

  4. My 14yo and her friends don’t use lolcat speak (or whatever the heck it is). They spell their words out. They used to use the abbreviations when they were in 5th through 7th grade, but fell out of it by 8th. S hasn’t been able to explain why apart from noting that it’s much easier to read real words. She still spells some of them wrong (and adds some odd punctuation now & again), but she’s using real words, even in IM and chat.

    Color me happy.

  5. I love the additional page idea! It would be a great resource not only for kids wanting to write to you/about you, but for teachers who want a “real world” example.

    I just remembered that in middle school I thought it would be cool to spell my name “KT” instead of “Katie” and used abbreviations like “U” for “you” and this was before texting, so maybe it’s just something around that age that makes it seem like a good idea. Thankfully I grew out of that one fast!

  6. I think I need a new page on the web site. I could title it: “kan i rite 2 u?”

    Oh, you totally should! If you don’t, I’m going to steal this idea! 🙂

  7. lol: I can haz purpose and audience awareness?

    In the stages of writing development, like life, there are certain elements that will surface. You can bet the 10-12 year old girls will be obsessed with horses. You can bet the kids will mess with the language. It’s fine for the kids to do this–with each other in notes and/or texting. But what the kids seem to be missing is the idea of Audience and Purpose.

    Both my high school and college level students dip into informal myspacespeak in emails to me. It bothers me, of course. But in that medium, they think it’s alright to write to someone that way. I agree that with the saturation of the internet, our language is changing (the internet has changed the way we do everything). But as long as we have a hold on the ideas of audience and purpose, we should be ok.

    I love the way you handled the teachable moment.

  8. I’m fifteen and I’ve never used chat-speak, not even in texts. It’s odd though, one of my friends who is really kind of formal, always IMs me using those weird abbreviations. I don’t think it even saves much time, and just takes me longer to figure out what she’s on about.

    With emailing people I’m the complete opposite, I focus too much on whether what I’m writing is correct, and then never ever have the courage to actually send the email!

  9. Re: lol: I can haz purpose and audience awareness?

    Ugh, I’m in college and the netspeak kills me when I see people my age using it. I don’t type in complete sentences or even capitalize correctly all the time in IMs, but at least I spell everything out and what I’m saying makes sense and is readable. I even have a friend who types IMs in complete sentences.

  10. Oh, me too! I constantly find myself composing emails and failing to send them because I haven’t gotten it “just right.” Good to know I’m not the only one.

  11. I teach 8th grade and I notice this “IM” chat all the time. I’ve discussed it with my students asking them why they continue to write this way on graded papers when they know they will be marked off. A few of the students replied with they don’t even realize they’re writing it like that. They use IM, Myspace, and texting so often that it has become “normal” to them.

  12. Just in on my MySpace bulletin.
    Message sent out by a 14 year old girl who knew nothing of this post.
    Her subject line: lol@literacylevels
    “It makes me pissy that people in america are given the chance
    for FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION and yet they type like retards.
    it’s “what” not “wat”
    or “you” not “u”

  13. As a teacher…

    I agree! And, so do my students! It is disappointing to get a letter with such poor grammar and mechanics. It is worth our while to fight to maintain the beauty of the English language. However, Courtney’s heart was in the right place; she read a book and attempted to go the extra mile to complete her homework. As an English teacher, I believe we have to celebrate our young readers!

  14. It’s funny you mention the 00s ’cause it’s something I think about a lot. I always see bulletins on MySpace that say “You were a 90s kid if you remember…” (fill in the blank) Lots of stuff about pogs, and Lisa Frank, and that orange Nickelodeon couch. But what are they going to call this decade? The Double Os? What about the next decade, the teens? U G43W UP 1N TH@ T33N5 1F U WR1T3 LYK D15.

  15. Please read! =)

    Hello there,

    Can’t believe I’m actually writing to you! I’m sixteen years old & Hungarian, and am currently living in Malaysia (KL). I’m just finishing my analysis for an “independent reading novel” for my grade 10 English class, and (surprise, surprise!) it happens to be about your latest – from what I’ve learned – book; Prom.

    Ok, before i get too carried away – I bet you get 50 billion messages similar to mine, allll the time – I just want to let you know that I think you’re an amazing author, & yes, I’m going right along with the rest of the world out there: SPEAK was awesome. I borrowed it from a friend when I was going into 9th grade, & I remember reallyreally enjoying it. Which is a little ironic, really, considering the plot & the themes.

    It would be really great if you could reply to this, but of course I totally understand if you can’t/won’t. Keep up the great writing!

    gabi xxx

    PS- I loved Prom, too, though for entirely different reasons. To me, it shed some light onto the lives of “ordinary, everyday” teen-life in Philadelphia. You wouldn’t believe the ‘bubble’ I’m coming from! 🙂

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