TIWYSJSTTSS

AKA “This Is Why You Should Just Stick To The Standard Shorthand”

I really needn’t say more, but this is a blog after all.

It all started one day when I was heading into the mall with a friend of mine. I think I was applying for a job or something, because I needed my SSN that day. The reason is not as important as what was said next.

“Do you have your soshe?”

“… My what?”

“Your soshe”, she repeated.

(And as a side note, yes, I do put my punctuation outside of the quotes if it’s not part of what was said. Deal with it.)

I didn’t know what a ‘soshe’ was, so I asked.

“Your Social Security Number, silly!” was her answer.

Oh boy…

Let me explain a few things here. First and foremost, I hate just about any attempt to make a word popular by “highschooling” it up. I think that started with the word “fetch” from some bullshit teen comedy or another. One day people just started calling things “fetch” and it caught like wildfire. Stop that shit.

Second, some words are just not popular enough to shorten. “Social Security Number” comes up in daily conversation about as often as “guerrilla rectal exam”, yet you don’t hear people saying “guerexam”. If it doesn’t need to be shortened, don’t shorten it. This is not Newspeak.

Third, this rule applies not just to single words, but phrases too (as hinted oh so subtly in my title and opening sentence). Anyone who has been online for a day knows that “LOL” means “Laughing Out Loud”, “WTF” means “What The Fuck”, “BRB” means “Be Right Back”, and “OMG” means “Oh My God”. I consider these and a few other acronyms almost sacred, a sort of online canon that must be honored for decades to come.

But many people do not.

Over time, other people tried to capitalize on the popularity of these sacred acronyms. We started seeing “JK”, “ROFL”, “YW” and others. And the Internet community accepted them. They are not and never will be as popular as LOL, but they are still welcome in the Pantheon of acronyms.

Then we entered into the dark ages…

“YMMV” (Your Milage May Vary), “NMP” (Not My Problem), “POS” (Parents Over Shoulder), and “TYS” (Told You So) began to appear like weeds in a flower garden. Soon it became impossible to have a conversation because everyone thought that you can simply make an acronym out of thin air!

I’m fighting back. I refuse to let the bastardization of a whole set of holy shorthand occur in my presence. As long as I draw breath, the likes of “FWIW”, “GFY”, and “TSIF” will be publicly shunned.

Now brb while I afk to gttb and gste.

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loooooooool!

I know this is the Internet and proper English is not a front-burner issue, but we need to talk…

You see, a lot of my friends have a particularly annoying habit.  It seems to make sense that if something is particularly funny, so funny that “lol” is not appropriate, it is necessary to extend out the “lol” to “lool” or even “loooool”.

This is not okay.

“lol” is shorthand for “laughing out loud”.  When you type “loool”, no matter how funny something is, you are really saying “laughing out out out loud”.  Every time someone does this, I imagine them stuck in a loop like a skipped record (although sadly I am not old enough to have experienced this first-hand).  This applies equally well to other acronyms, too:

  • “wtfff” = “what the fuck fuck fuck”
  • “omggg” = “oh my god god god”
  • “rooofl” = “rolling on on on floor laughing”

So please, if you are going to use shorthand, stick to the basics.

However, we are not limited only to shorthand here.  Indeed, I have seen people attempt to emulate drawn-out words in text.  For example, someone might say “please” in a whiny way, something I would write as “pleeeaaase”.  Almost inevitably, though, they will write “ppppppppplease” or “pleaseeeeeeee”.  This is what I imagine:

  • “p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-please” = stuttering problem
  • “pleaseeeeeeee” = “pleasy”

As a general rule, only draw out vowels, and the letters F, H, J, L, M, N, R, S, V, W, X, Y, and Z.  The letters B, C, D, G, K, P, Q, and T have no business being repeated for dramatic effect.  Also, try saying the word out loud first how you want it to sound, and make an educated guess as to where the repetition should occur.

Elocutionary Punctuation

All throughout my schooling experience, I have had English teachers scold me for my punctuation.  Spelling?  Perfect.  Grammar?  Spot-on.  Punctuation?  “See me.”

You see, I like commas.  A lot.  To me, they provide a separation of ideas, a sort of mental pause when reading.  A long sentence can be made more legible by separating it into more digestible chunks.  Also, when I write, I like to do so as if I were speaking.  Ideally, someone would be able to imagine my cadence exactly as if I were talking directly to them, as opposed to them reading my words.

This caused a lot of problems.

The most common remark I would get from my English teachers would be something along the lines of “Commas should not just be sprinkled into your writing.”  I would nod, promise to work on it, and then go do exactly what they told me not to.  Not surprisingly, a few of my A papers turned into B papers.  No big.

Flash forward to early 2010, when I discovered this post by Eric Raymond, renowned hacker and open-source contributor.  As it turns out, one of my computer-world idols had the same thoughts as myself!  Finally, an intellectual who recognizes the elegance of forgoing traditional notions of punctuation in exchange for more personal and meaningful communication.

Now all I have to do is go back to every English teacher I have ever had, show them this article, and have them retroactively change my grades.