Monday, February 20, 2006

Literacy Limps Into the Kill Zone

It's always interesting when one any persona takes a stand, especially when that stand is from the top of a soapbox. When the persona is an editor of a significant news outlet, and the target of his vitriol is his colleagues, and their effect, well, the results are down right literary.

It's rare for a journalist to admit to the power the wield, rarer still for them to condemn it, it strikes me as odd that I have found two such articles recently.

In this episode we join Tony Long, copy chief for Wired News, as he explores the English language's decent into the droppings collection apparatus (aka the shitter.)

Tony has a point, and while it is partially directed at inane blog writers, like yours truly, it is accurate. He explains that much of the problem started with the ease and speed of communication. As we effortlessly fire our messages across the ether, we not failing to think about the linguistic repercussions of our writings, we are failing to think about our writings all together. What we create he relates to other (non-fecal) bodily waste.


But it's not enough to simply vomit out of your fingers. It's important to say what you mean clearly, correctly and well. It's important to maintain high standards. It's important to think before you write.


With a liberal helping of blame and recrimination Tony admits that he is willing to allow English evolution, provided that evolution doesn't dismantle the expressiveness of our great language. He makes a specific note that I hits close to home for me, and that is about technical jargon. While I encourage a thorough reading of the article, I thought I would share out of concern for the horses.

Eternal vigilance is required to nip these encroachments in the bud. While tech jargon might be very useful among engineers and programmers, it should stay among engineers and programmers so as not to frighten the children and the horses.


After all is send and done, I do agree with Tony, and that is the English language is a very fertile field for ideas to germinate and grow into all manner of flowers and trees, things of beauty, and complexity, or simple elegance. Unfortunately, that field has become overgrown with weeds.
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