Prescriptivism v. Descriptivism in the Information Age: Rules v. Reality (and Vice-Versa)

In today’s world, the so-called “Technology Age” and “Information Era,” there’s no doubting the large-scale impact rapid communication and technology has had and continues to wield on reading, writing, and spoken language. Think about it: “LOL,” “JK,” and “TY” are not only seen as acceptable in many facets and fields of communication (written or spoken), but as mainstream. Just today I heard a young woman pepper her conversation and respond with “LOL” and “JK, JK,” while talking on the phone. There’s no denying how “Text talk” has made the leap from not just being tapped out on screens, to being actually spoken in everyday life.

Cringing? Being a self -professed book worm, word nerd, and (insert GASP) dreaded Grammar Nazi, “Text talk” sometimes rubs me the wrong way, given the context (don’t you dare use numbers as stand-ins for words in academic papers)! But that doesn’t mean I haven’t typed out texts to my BFFs (best friends forever!) in a series of letters and digits (“cant wait 2 chill w/ u! its been 4evah!”) But I digress…

The abbreviations, omitted punctuation, and substituted spelling of “Text talk” is just one key example of how technology has changed how we learn and use language itself. And with the advent of social media: BOOM! Alphabet soup (or how about stew?) indeed. But considering how many gripe about this form of communication…is “Text talk” really a sign that the English language is deteriorating, as many would have us believe?