Saturday, December 02, 2006

Martin Van Buren: He's So K-E-W-L

As technology races ahead in order to make our lives easier we are forever realizing there are trade-offs for a less complicated life. While email makes it possible to directly contact most anyone we must also put up with infuriating and at times comical email spam that fills our inboxes with ads for viagra, tales of lost Iraqi gold, or an invitation to join in on Nigerian banking intrigues. Desktop computers have led to working at home, instant publishing, and numerous ways to organize our lives. On the flipside desktop computers have opened up a portal to a den of inequity of pornography, gambling, and thievery which penetrates our humble homes and has a huge effect on business productivity. Cell phones had aided us enormously regarding safety and instant contactibility. The downside….instant contactibility. They are a curse and a God-send at the same time.

One of the problems we are seing more and more in education are the increased use of cell phones among our students at all grade levels during the school day. There are reports even parents do not hold sacrosanct instruction time and ring up their child when the whim strikes. Cell phones can be used to contact one another between classes, in class, and after school. Text messages can be used without the phone being detected at all. There are reports that cell phones at school have been used to bully other students, as cheating aids, and serve as disruption during instructional time. Text messaging has a language all its own. Short-cuts, half-spellings, and abbreviations abound. Now we are finding text messaging style is infiltrating our language arts classes, and there is a real concern text messaging will interfere with formal writing skills.

Just look at how the beauty of written prose can be changed through text message speak. Taken from Wikipedia look at this “translation” of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

If we shadowes ave ofendd. Thnk bt ths & al is mnded. That u ave but slumer’d ere; whiL thse visNs did appr; & this wk & idel theme; no mre yEldN bt a dream. Gentles, do nt reprehNd; if u pardon we wil mend; & I am honst Puck;

While we can decypher and “get through it” something is lost.

Interestingly enough abbreviated language is nothing new. How many times a day do you use the abreviation OK? We tell people we are OK when they ask how we are. We exclaim “OK!” when students finally seem to “get it”. We use OK at the end of question where we want some type of affirmation. Don’t bang on that desk again, OK? Complete the assignment and turn it into my box, OK?

So just how does the abbreviation for OK fit into a post regarding a past president and relate to text speak in the twenty-first century?

Stay with me while I connect the dots, OK?

Go on over to dot number one at American Presidents for the remainder of this post.


Hen Jen said...

that translation of A Midsummer's night dream made me sad. How much is missed.
It is amazing how fast things are changing technology-wise.
We live in amazing times, it will be interesting to see how text-messaging, blogging, myspace and youtube shape then next generations.
I do have to say, I can't imagine homeschooling without the internet. It is so easy now to research things, find answers, print a worksheet...
enjoyed your post,
Jenny in Ca

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Well, this is just an OK little piece about the origins, however murky, of the word that has become the universal shorthand for "all right" or "yes." Thanks for this enjoyable journey into the past.

EHT said...

Thanks Jenny....I have to say for some of the bad things the Internet has brought us the good far outweighs the problems.

CTG, murky? Did you click on over to American Presidents and read the entire piece?