The rules of formal writing have been ingrained in us from a young age: Use proper capitalization, punctuation and spelling, and make your sentences as clear as possible. But where does that leave us when we’re texting, Tweeting or talking online?
Nowadays, people tend to write how they speak. For adults or people outside of this sphere, this new style of writing often seems lazy and lawless. It reflects the idea of “Millennial laziness” and puts English as just another thing the younger generations have ruined. But here’s the thing: Language evolves, and if you look at it, online “chatspeak” has a grammatical system of its own. More than that, it allows for deeper levels of communication through written text.
when i mean sentences are written the way we speak i mean like this. limited capitalization and punctuation and often run-ons because we dont really think or speak in full sentences, just long, continuous thoughts that often bleed into the next and evolve as our thoughts do. and when capitalization does occur, it does with a Purpose. lowercase is a baseline that necessary changes are applied to.
Sometimes capitalization occurs to indICATE YELLING or excITEMENT in the form of written crescendo. But sometimes it can also be used to indicate importance. You can make things a proper noun and express that the word means something specific. For example, there’s a difference between suffering and Suffering. Lowercase suffering is simply the verb, but the capitalized form takes on the personification of that person’s troubles.
Capitalization is especially interesting because of the effects it has on the meaning of words. The differences between “no,” “No,” “NO” and “No.” are subtle yet distinguishable, but the meaning is missed by older generations.
But also interesting is our generation’s way of explaining things with hyperbole. We never say what we mean in a straightforward way. We don’t simply say “I’m shocked!” but instead substitute it for a phrase like “My soul literally just left my body.” Nor do we say “She’s so pretty!” but things like “I would let her murder me” or “She could punch me and I would say thank you.” Somehow we always understand each other, even with our drastically over-exaggerated way of speaking.
What’s important, though, is that the choices we make with our language are intentional and purposeful. This is the reason why parents, corporations or any kind of adult tries to mimic the way we write, it just feels wrong. It’s why we cringe at parents saying “LOL TTYL my BFF. I luv u!!!!” It completely misinterprets the way we write, but importantly, they often break the grammar rules all of us know subconsciously.
Our English isn’t deteriorating and we aren’t lazy. From a linguistic standpoint, we’re actually the pioneers of a new version of English. We’re evolving our language to fit our needs.
so,,,,, ignore all the ppl who tell you you’re ruining language by writing this way. we’re still using grammar rules!!! keep doing you fam <3
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.