Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We're living in a text mess age

My cell phone jangled the other night, that particular tone that means a text message has been received. I don't send text messages and no one sends them to me unless they're some phone solicitation or a wrong number. When I looked at the message it said:
oh my god!!!!!! Y the fuk are u saying all that stupid shit to make me have a dumb ass tutor!?!?!
It came from a Virginia area code, so I was sure it was a wrong number. Not that I didn't already suspect it, because I don't know anyone who writes like that. Or I should say, no one writes like that to me. Texting has its own language, and although I don't use it, I can read it. I even agree with some of it. Economy, using one letter, "y" for why or "u" for you, makes sense. "Fuk" seems strange--how hard is that word to spell?--but it's readable.

"Stupid shit" as used in this sense, doesn't mean unintelligent defecation, but is an overall term which means saying "things which can be used against me," the texter, so that it becomes the cause of the writer having to have special help from a "dumb ass tutor." "Dumb ass" in this context would mean someone you wouldn't want in your life, not that the tutor him/herself is dumb.

So the short note has phonetic spelling, colloquialisms, and is designed for impact. It's written as a accusation in the form of a question to which the asker already knows the answer. Reading between the lines, I believe someone said something to someone in authority, a school official, a parent, which caused them to determine that a tutor is necessary, based on the texter's academic needs. But the texter is not happy, which he/she declares immediately with the the exclamatory, "oh my god!!!!!!" The multiple exclamation points makes that clear to the receiver of this text. Attention is being shouted out for the message that follows.

What makes sense to the receiver, the texter and even me, wouldn't make any sense at all to someone who was trying to learn the English language.

One off the municipalities within our county decided to declare that everyone in their city should speak English. So they have a resolution that English will be spoken. Even the local daily newspaper picked it up and ran with it in an editorial, which decided that, in America where English is the official language, all people coming from other countries should speak it. It's the arrogance of Americans, even those whose ancestors came to this country speaking another language, who have decided that they shouldn't have to be bothered by non-English speakers. They will just wave a magic wand and make it so. My daughter-in-law, who came from Vietnam, has learned English by immersion over a period of several years. She's had to learn to read it and write it, because she's had to for the sake of her jobs. She also spends her day in a business setting where she speaks to Americans. But it all took time, and frankly, I've never asked her if she would understand a text message like the one I reproduced for you above. Do people waving those magic wands know how difficult it is to learn another language? Especially English?

Even English speakers have trouble with English. I've spoken English all my life, but when I was in the Army I stumbled when I read that if I lost any equipment issued to me I would be "pecuniarily liable." Eh? Say what? Pecuniarily? Going to the dictionary I found out that "pecuniary" means relating to money. Why not just say that? Well, because the writer thought it sounded smarter or more legal-sounding to say "pecuniary" than to say, "If you lose equipment issued to you, you will be required to replace it by paying for it."

oh my god!!!!! y do u need a dumb ass tutor to read that stupid shit!?!?


This clever list is from an e-mail I received this morning:


To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.

The professor discovered that her theory of earthquakes was on shaky ground.

The batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

A will is a dead giveaway.

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.

Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.

You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.

Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the fellow whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.

A bicycle can't stand alone; it is two tired.

In a democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your Count that votes.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.

Acupuncture: a jab well done.

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