The Internet Isn’t Killing Punctuation and Grammar

It’s just exposing how bad we are at it.

This article suggests that because of the rise of emails, instant messaging, blogs and MySpace comments, traditional use of punctuation is dying. People are in too much of a rush to take care in what they write or to care about how others set their text.

Apparently before the internet became popular everybody was a master of the English language.

Remember those face-to-face late night “chat” sessions you had before you even heard of America Online? What used to be:

“Oh Harold, your humor delights me to no end! However, I must say that despite your gains in our poker tournament this week I am still much more skilled than you wish. Perhaps you should take some time this weekend to read a book concerning card games. Until then, I believe you will never triumph over me.”

Has now been reduced to:

LOL!!!!! 0Wn3D NeWb! 3133T3!!!.!,.!§∞¢HaX0Rz•¶∞£§£¢§¶∞!!!!”

And it’s all AOL‘s fault.

Chances are that if your writing was shitty 10 years ago then you’re probably still shitty at writing today.

Authors and bloggers should take care in their writing not to impress their readers with how many hyphens and semicolons they can slip into their work, but to better communicate with readers. Punctuation and grammar don’t exist to help you string words together into unnecessarily long sentences. Their purpose is to help you get to “the goddamn point” already.

So when I read a drawn-out piece about how punctuation is dying I think about the irony. In elementary school my teachers told me how long my book report needed to be. When a kid asked “how long does this need to be?” the reply was hardly ever “as long as it takes you to make your point.” If that were the answer, many students would aim for the shortest paper possible: as they should. We should teach quality over quantity.

If you think about it, that’s why abbreviations like “LOL” exist. They are brief and oftentimes all that is necessary to express yourself in an instant message.

To claim that online publications are killing language is false. What you’re actually observing is that more people are joining in on expressing themselves through written word. It’s not so much that they don’t care – they’re just unskilled.

If they want to improve their standards, now is their chance.