R U OK?
By PENNY FLETCHER
It all started with using computers and texting on cell phones. It’s so much faster to abbreviate, and most people know what we mean. But the Millennials may never use proper written language; worse yet, since schools in the U.S. don’t teach cursive writing anymore. Generation X may be the last to be able to read important documents like the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. The “No Child Left Behind Act” reinforces this by pushing “teaching to benchmark tests across the country,” but alas, that’s a column for another day.
For now, let’s jump back to the second line of this column for a minute and examine the word “emoji” because someone asked me what it meant last week when a newscaster referred to Twitter refusing to create an “emoji” President-elect Trump had requested.
Somewhere in Japan, early in the 1990s, cartoon-like figures called emojis (spelled differently there of course) were invented to accent words on computers. Emojis arrived in the U.S. shortly after that and are now found on practically all forms of social media, texting devices, computers and cell phones. You know, those little smiley or angry faces; thumbs up and down symbols, broken hearts and other things that immediately make pictures in the mind.
Abbreviations have been with us a long time: Take Xmas for Christmas for example. The problem is, while they were designed to save time (or writing space) they’ve started to replace the meaning behind what someone is trying to convey.
As a long-time writer and editor, I find “meaning” very important. Is there a difference between Xmas and Christmas? Of course there is.
Whether you are a Christian or not, if you speak the English language, you need to know the word “Christmas” is an “abbreviation” of Christ’s Mass, originated from the Old English word “Cristemaesse” meaning the church service dedicated to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth; called by Christians, Jesus the Christ.
No one doubts that Christmas — and many other annual celebrations — are holidays, but how many are still taught that originally in the English language “holiday” came from abbreviating “Holy Day?”
I am all for co-existence and have written columns on that subject for many years. Let Christians be Christians and say “Merry Christmas;” the Jewsh be Jewish and say “Happy Hanukkah;” Muslims be Muslims; Buddhists be Buddhists; and Native Americans be Native Americans, and so on. This is a country of diversity and we should celebrate that kind of haven.
But this column isn’t about that, it’s about losing our language.
Think about it. Even writers and editors use “I LV U 2” on computers and cell phones to save time.
Somehow, while saving time and writing space, we must also assure that future generations know those things are abbreviations, not “real words.”