My friend and colleague Azza Sedky runs a blog dedicated mostly to Egyptian politics. But she's also a teacher of communications and ESL, and recently she blogged about The tidal wave battering our language shores. Excerpt:
A few years back, before bbs’s (blackberry messages) existed, an indisposed student sent her university instructors a collective e-mail. The wording was along the lines of, “I will b hospitalized 2day. I won’t return to university b4 next week. Thank u 4 understanding.” Bear in mind that that was an e-mail sent in a university environment not a text message to one’s buddy.
Her instructors were stymied and horrified, so they quickly congregated to discuss the e-mail and how to react. They decided to first call in the student and let her know that this kind of writing was unacceptable, and two, to ask the communication instructor of that program, me, to emphasize e-mail netiquette as part of the required business writing course of that program.
When the student was called in, she was surprised that this kind of writing wasn’t the norm, and defensively explained, “But this is how I always write.” Again she was told that there is a vast difference between standard, professional English and text messaging your friends.
However, it is really crucial to realize that this student personifies a generation’s way of thinking and writing. This is the writing she sees and is accustomed to. If a generation considers this normal writing, how will it affect our language and its evolvement in the long run?
Since then my opening spiel in my business writing courses every semester has had an add-on. Not only does it focus on the norm—avoid jargon, clichés, slang, gobbledygook, etc.—but steer clear from text messaging in professional or academic writing.