Are Americans really that illiterate?

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 11:45 PM | comments: 4

You know, at times it scares me to find a post on the Internet where the people writing it are functionally illiterate. I'm not talking about a typo or the misappropriation of a homonym, I'm talking about people that can't put together a sentence with everyday simple words.

Even with my fancy English degree and a book to my credit, I'm not perfect, and I make typos (I'm slightly lysdexic), but I'm genuinely fearful for the future of our country by the general illiteracy I see everywhere. I fear that chat shorthand could make it worse with the young people, but I'm not sure if that's something to worry about or not (my volleyball kids, at least, communicate like normal humans via e-mail).



January 12, 2005, 5:54 AM #

What is even scarier is the speed at which some of these people learn that chat shorthand. I think it took my brother a couple weeks to throw some of the lingo my way once he started chatting with friends.


January 12, 2005, 4:27 PM #

Another thing that scares me is my girlfriend, one of the most intelligent people I've ever met, sees nothing wrong with chat lingo (although she won't use it herself).

"Language evolves. Remember, people never used contractions in the old days. For that matter, when was the last time you heard someone say 'thee' in real life?"

She has a point about that. However, she WILL agree about the general decline in the ability to express a clear thought, shortspeak or no.


January 12, 2005, 5:51 PM #

And that's what I'm getting at. If it were just as easy to understand, it would be less of an issue. But when you have to decipher what the hell someone is trying to say, that ain't good.


January 13, 2005, 6:13 AM #

I don't think we have much to worry about. I mean, shorthand isn't tolerated in a formal environment so it's not like it will infect the business community.

I don't see anything wrong with it in Instant Messages or chatrooms because the idea behind using it is to get your idea across as fast as possible so you don't fall behind in the conversation. On message boards it's different though. People should treat message boards like a semi-formal email from the writer to the rest of that community.

Maybe it's just me, but I have no problems decyphering shorthand. That could be because I'm part of the generation who essentially started it and I never knew a world without it.

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