Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Wazzup Dude? How are you?
The ways we communicate are many and intricate. From town to town, county to county, state to state, or nation to nation there are variations in inflection, nasality, dialect, and language. For the purpose of this post I'd like to address a some what common trend. You may see it as a bad thing, or a good thing, or you may not care either way.
The simple fact is, wherever you go in the United States, you run into a preponderance of colloquialisms, slang, and mumbling. Personally I find myself more drawn to the mumbling (It is the perfect way to say something offensive without anyone really perceiving it except your closest mumble-translating friends). But, the far greater concern is not the mumblers, although perhaps we should enunciate more clearly.
The real problem is everyone who overuses the following words: stuff, things, dude, yeah, sweet, cool, crap, ya know, like, etc. Rarely, if ever does anyone truly use any of those words correctly in day-to-day speech. What it could represent is a dumbing down of the American-english vulgate. Or, perhaps the spread of MTV and surfer culture has made a massive juggernaut movement. I happen to be part of the surfer culture, but, contrary to what you might think, not all are sun-crisped air heads. In fact most are not. But, even though they may have MBAs or be CEOs and lawyers...they still love to use the words brah, dude, whoa, wazzup, gnarly and the like. This lingo has its proper time and place in my opinion. On the beach, at the board shop, on a surf trip, in the ocean, at the X games, etc. But, this language has made its way into Universities and the workplace and places that one might have thought could be safe, or even immune.
However, what helps it gain momentum is instant messenging, text messaging, and the ever-growing need to be cool and maintain a "I'm smart, but I don't need to use good grammar or complicated language to communicate." With the information age, it becomes easier to talk to one another in a variety of ways, but we also tend to communicate in the most base and easy way. Why? It's less time consuming. It's much easier to send a text that says "Wazup bro? R U goin 2nite to that thing?" than "Hey Tom, how are you? Are you going to the Maroon 5 concert?" And, some might think the second form makes you sound like a pompous dork. Why should we need to punctuate? Who cares about grammar? I got the point across didn't I? Yes. Yes you did, but I can't say I could vote for you for public office, or feel comfortable about sending my kids to a school where you teach. I doubt there is much we can do about the trend...unless we decide that we want to take the time to speak and write well without being ashamed of it.
The cool kids with the sweet lingo don't get the important jobs that go places or change the world. The stubborn people who like books, reading, writing, and public speaking get them. Talk amongst yourselves.