It’s very much a case of do as i say, not as i do… as those opening words clearly illustrate: i wouldn’t say that i’m a grammar nazi, perhaps ‘grammar nanny’ is more appropriate: i’ll inwardly cringe when exposed to examples of poor usage on the part of others, but rarely will i take someone to task over their articulation, (or lack of), or make a point of drawing attention to their error. As for myself, i’ll happily break all the rules – as will be obvious to anyone familiar with these pages – whether in the cause of artistic effect, or sheer frivolity and simple bloody-mindedness. For me, beginning a sentence with a preposition is less a matter of having disdain for the rules than an appreciation for being matter-of-fact about how we really speak – I’m very much a performance grammarian, because it’s a more honest and true reflection of the real world, (even if I’m writing about a virtual one!) Right, wrong or otherwise – i’ll let you decide, but don’t bother correcting me because i’ll take no notice.
So, i’ll freely admit that it’s one rule for me and a different rule for everyone else – i can’t help being inwardly offended by grammatical malpractice on the part of others, but i suspect – when it comes to sl – i’m by no means alone. Unlike the great unwashed, who spend their days Facebooking and txting with seemingly no concern for form or function and the utility of language, other than how many different emoticons they can append to their pithy missives, the sl bunch seem – in general – less enamoured of such practices and would rather not see communication inworld reduced to a meaningless jumble of letters and digits.
‘4 and 2 are not words’, ‘R and U are letters’, ‘If you intend having a conversation with me, I’d appreciate that you speak English and not text’… Comments commonly to be found gracing profiles across the whole inworld demographic. SL people, it seems, are largely intolerant of sloppy practices when it comes to the written word and would rather not be subjected to the brevity and compromise that proliferates elsewhere on the web, or otherwise passes for modern-day communication.
Perhaps sl users have higher expectations of language as a consequence of the nature of the virtual environment? It is, after all, a world: Not a chatroom, neither is it a social media platform in the sense of Twitter or Facebook. When we converse in sl, it is effectively face-to-face; a conversation of the old-fashioned kind and when this conversation is expressed in the written form, (and I do realise that not all conversations in sl are typed – but that’s a different kettle of fish entirely), it seems reasonable to expect that it will follow the same pattern as spoken conversation. Consequently, when shortcuts are taken that undermine the purity of the spoken word, it jars our sensibilities… it simply feels wrong.
However, despite our shunning of sloppy language, we tend to be incredibly tolerant of sloppy typing. Indeed, there are those amongst us more than happy to champion it! Check out our profiles and you’ll find us proudly proclaiming our prowess at typonese as one of our skills; those whose fingers fall over themselves as they frantically try to keep pace with rapidly changing conversations are applauded when they manage to mangle the language beyond recognition, and nobody gives two hoots about what you type, just so long as you’re making the effort to get the message across!
There’s a sense in which we are willing to compromise to accommodate the physical and purely mechanical shortcomings of our fellow virtual citizens – an acceptance that typing is a necessary evil that will frequently get the better of us, but is somewhat unimportant – a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. What truly matters to us is the message, not the means – and that is why we’ll tolerate “Sorrry i’m a bitlate, I fogort what tme we saod we’d be staert[[ng”, because it encapsulates the essence of the message, and the poor chap is making an effort, however badly. However, woe betide the avatar who turns up and broadcasts: “Hi every1 howzit goin Im gud hope UR2. Soz Im late 4got the time” – that’s just crass and lazy and effectively shifts the focus from the message to the means: nobody cares what was said, because they really can’t stand they way it was said.
And where do i stand? In my own little niche, as always: i’ll continue to mangle the language to suit my purposes, Misuse Capitals to get my Point across, and basically play with words, because it’s fun and rules were meant to be broken… but there’s a difference between breaking the rules because we can, and breaking the rules because we couldn’t give a damn.
Saw your blog post
It’s really fantastic
That was sarcastic
‘Cause you write like a spastic
Weird Al Yankovic – Word Crimes