WITH AN H: A farewell to language

Heric Rubio

“Oh, and we won first place, B-T-Dubs.”

My head snapped to attention from off the desk. Did I just hear correctly? I looked around to see if anyone else had the same look of confusion. To my dismay, no one did. Not even the professor running the Speech class I was sitting in.

You’re probably wondering what the big deal is. Hopefully, you’re wondering what B-T-Dubs is. Well allow me to enlighten the uninitiated.

Over the years, texting has become one of the most common forms of communication. With this rise in popularity it also developed its own pseudo-language. Whole phrases such as ‘laughing out loud’ and ‘be right back’ have been shortened to three simple letters, LOL and BRB, respectively.

In this language, BTW stands for ‘by the way.’ And after years of listening to hip hop, I know that ‘dub’ is often used in substitution for the letter W (thank you Westside Connection). Hence, B-T-dubs equals BTW equals by the way.

While personally not a fan, I understand why these shortcuts came to be. When a text only allows 160 characters, you have to find a way to get your thoughts in as efficiently as possible. The problem however, is when they make their way from fingers to mouths.

The English language represents the melting pot that created this country. It has elements of every culture that’s made America what it is.

We’re a diverse group of people with varying ideals and trains of thought. All these things came together to form one of the very few things we all share in common, our language.

When that begins changing and mutating into a pseudo-language that consists of simple letters and numbers we may as well start forgetting who we are as individuals. When sentences begin sounding like “OMG, I was LMAO but then he was like ‘I’ll BRB” we should toss out ‘The Great Gatsby’ and just start teaching ‘Twilight’ as English literature.

Technology and everything that comes with it can be a blessing. We can keep in touch with people on the other side of the world.
If there’s an emergency we can contact someone almost instantly. But we have to be careful not to let it take over our lives, though I fear it may be too late for that.

I don’t know, maybe it’s my love of language that causes me to cringe when I hear these abominations of speech. Maybe I just think I’m too smart for my own good (I kind of do). Maybe I’m old school and this is just the natural evolution of speech. But I can’t help but think of George Orwell’s ‘1984’. In this dystopia, people spoke in Newspeak, a government created language meant to control thought.

The leaders knew the power of words. They knew that ‘I have a dream’ could start a movement. Three simple words like ‘Yes we can’ could make the people believe that yes, they really could. They knew all this so they prevented it.

In this world though, the government doesn’t even have to lift a finger. No one is forcing people to speak like this. We’re doing it to ourselves. And seriously people, WTF?

Heric Rubio is the City Times opinions editor