Monday, September 1, 2008

msgs u snd shd B IN ENGLISH

So the fine folks across the pond there in London are slowly, but surely, losing their minds. And I'm not saying that because of the occasional haggis eating contest. (OK, I AM saying that's not normal, but I'm not saying it right now.) No, they seem to be going in a direction in which I'm not quite sure which way is up. Here's the scoop:

According to the fine folks over there at the Mail Online, the London Grid for Learning (known by them as the LGfL. Why the little "f", I have no idea. Then again, I don't know what a "learning grid" is either.) has created a poster that is currently being displayed in over 2,000 secondary schools in London. The poster is titled "Top Tips For Pupils - Safe surfing at home and at school". Well, that sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? Of course it does. Of course it sounds like a good thing. But does it read like a good thing? Behold! A poster that is supposed to convey something about something to someone!

Oh, what the hell is that? (If you click the image above, the monstrosity should get bigger.)That would be the poster that gives guidelines to students on how to stay safe when online or when using their cell phone (known across the pond to those wacky Brits as their mobile, which is often pronounced mow-BILE). It gives those guidelines to those students in the form of TEXT MESSAGE LINGO. According to the Mail Online, over 5,000 of the posters are "...written in a mind-boggling array of numbers and unlikely combinations of letters, in an attempt to connect with children who are more comfortable writing and reading in the abbreviated language used in mobile phone text messages than formal English." Oh, well, that explains it. What could possibly go wrong?

Are you freaking kidding me? What is that crap? Don't get me wrong, I am an extremely adept texter. But as anyone who has ever received a text from me will tell you, I don't abbreviate squat. Every word is typed out. I even use punctuation. There's just something OK about using "u" in place of "you". I don't like it. It's all very Prince. (before he wasn't Prince and was just that symbol thing and then was Prince again and he still Prince? Regardless, it was before all of that stuff started happening.) No, that's not totally it. It's just a mess is what it is.

The LGfL folks explained it/tried to justify this nonsense by saying that they "believe text language is the best way to get through to children today." A one Brian Durrant, who is the chief executive of the LGfL, said: ‘We think it would raise their interest by using “textese”. It does take some translating, but we want to connect with the pupils." SOME translating? Dude, do I look like an archaeologist, intensely trained and highly skilled at deciphering hieroglyphics? No? Good, because I'm not. And that's why it's going to take a little bit more than SOME translating to figure that out. This is better than English written as English...why? Again?

Allow me to translate a little bit of this crap for you. Number nine reads: "nvr agree 2 mEt an on9 pal IRL w/o chekin W a responsible XXX." That line of crap is supposed to mean: "Never agree to meet an online friend in real life without checking with a responsible adult." So, let me get this straight....they feel the need to abbreviate words like "never" and "to" and "with", but they do not feel the need to abbreviate "responsible"?? They're doing it backwards! You don't abbreviate the already brief! They're already brief! Why must they make them briefer?! Why not brief the elongated instead?! It makes even less sense to me now than it did when I started making fun of it.

And what is with "adult" being abbreviated as "XXX"? Doesn't "XXX" usually stand for the really porn-y porn? Like goat rapist porn? As an adult who is not a goat rapist, I'm a bit offended that all "adults" are grouped under the "XXX" label in this seedy text underworld.

Number one read like this: "u av d ryt 2 feel safe ll d tym, includN wen UzN ICT or yr mob ph." This is supposed to translate into English as "You have the right to feel safe all the time, including when using information communications technology or your mobile phone." All right, that's just crap. It read like: "You have dry teetoo feels a fell deetyem, includ enwin uzi en ickt or your mobfuh." Sure. That's going to help. Oh, and these posters are up in the classrooms and hallways of the schools over there, are they? Yeah, that will really speed up the learning process for sure!

Now, in Scotland, "....text messaging, social networking websites and blogs will be studied alongside books, plays and poetry in schools in future under new curriculum guidelines that were published earlier this year." Oh, sweet mother of God, I need to find out who is in charge of this little experiment in Scotland and contact them immediately! They must study this blog! (Perhaps they can find out what is wrong with me!) It'd be like Internet psychoanalysis for me. Only with kilts and bagpipes and little golf hats with pom-pons on top of them (because that's how everyone looks in Scotland, right?).

The Scots can justify this because they say that, "The idea is to use modern methods of communication to engage children and prepare them with the skills necessary for the workplace." And I suppose all of that would be fine and good if they were entering the workplace as children. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that they're not entering the workplace as children. (I'm assuming all of this, of course. For all I know, the Scottish pom-pon factories could have sweatshops that are recruiting child labor left and right over there.)

I was glad to read that not everyone over there thinks that this is a good idea. Nick Seaton, who is with the Campaign for Real Education (I like real education!), said, "To use text language is to pass on entirely the wrong message and encourage lower standards. The people behind this really should have known better." But they didn't, Nick, because they're not for "Real Education". No, they seem to be for "RL EdUc8tn". And "RL EdUc8tn" has very low standards indeed.

Well, this should be interesting. If they're going to start publishing educational materials in "text message-ese" one of two things is going to happen. They're either going to end up with a whole bunch of people who will be walking around like human Rosetta Stones or they're going to have a whole bunch of people who are just morons.

Hello, Vegas? Yes, I'd like to place a hundred dollars on the morons, please.

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