Monday, 20 April 2009

The Written Word

So, I was doing the usual lying in bed and moving around more than I do during the whole day, when I began to think of English in its different forms. I am from an era when you were marked down on bad spelling, punctuation and grammar in exams and not when you got marks for saying 'fuck off;' which apparently is showing good spelling. My point is, I am by no means a purist but I absolutely despise text speak. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that English is constantly evolving and that Chaucer probably had a heart attack when we started saying 'you' instead of 'thou;' but what I object to is the use of text speak when you're not even texting. For example, I realise that text speak came about as an ingenious way of saving space when you have limited characters in a text message and to that end it works wonderfully. It has even been proven that if you olny use the frsit and lsat lterets in a wrod it is prefelcty radealbe (kinda). But when you are presented with text speak on Facebook or Twitter comments is when it really gets my goat. You have a whole keyboard in front of you to type real words and you don't even bother - in fact, I would say it's harder to write in text speak on a keyboard than using real words. I suppose that's a good thing - they can spend more time indoors typing inane messages and leave the rest of us alone. And God forbid, if you actually use it in real life. I don't even use it in texts, but I think that's more of an age thing than anything else. I can stretch to the occasional 'LOL' but that's more of an internet thing anyway.

And as this is the way my brain goes, I thought about the awful way that some people pronounce the word 'ask' as 'axe.' Was that just a communal groan I heard through t'internets? However, I have since found out that this is actually an olde English way of pronouncing the word when I thought it was a relatively new phenomenon. This may be the case, but why is this pronunciation mainly among people of Black African or Carribbean descent? Or white, middle class 'gangstas' trying to look hard of course. The only conclusion I can gather is that when the English so very kindly colonised parts of Africa and the Carribbean, this is how we pronounced the word and it has been passed down the generations so to speak. I know this is how it is also pronounced in the parts of America where there is a large black population so this is the only explanation I could offer myself when contemplating its usage last night. If any of you know different, please let me know because I am genuinely interested in how it has come about and how we can eradicate it from our lives forever.


  1. Yes, yes, oh god yes. It pains me when people can't be arsed to spell correctly, to the point where I often can't be bothered to read what they're saying. I don't even really like it in text messages, as the whole space thing isn't an issue anymore. It worries me a fair bit that it will get to the point when the abbreviations become universally accepted versions of the words. And god help us all if 'should of' or 'would of' become official...

    I've never heard anyone pronounce 'ask' as 'axe' before, though if they did it as a Futurama reference it would be okay :P.

  2. Ooo I hate the axe thing, hate it. I actually physically can't say it either in that context (ask Marty, he finds it highly amusing when I try).

    Text speak is a pox. Surely, it takes less effort to write as you have been taught all your life, as opposed to thinking of nifty quick ways to write "UR" and "l8r". If you use it, I will assume you're a moron and ignore everything you write.

  3. I thought you two might agree somehow! Chris, you haven't heard 'axe' before because there are no black people in Bristol. ;o)

  4. I always think of it being spelt "arks", which is probably why I can't say it. ;)

  5. Go home and practise it - I shall expect a full update on Thursday!