The Insidious Grammatical Effects of the Cyber Experience

Anyone who hangs out with me often enough probably knows one of my pet peeves is grammatical mistakes. A specific subset of this pet peeve category, however, infuriates me to no end: that of published and even codified bad grammar.

For example, it’s pretty much become acceptable in the written media to omit the last comma in a list of words. A grammar textbook should tell you that if you have a list of three or more words, you need to have a comma after that second-to-last word; simply having the conjunction “and” there is not sufficient. This really annoys me because of the way I read in my mind. When I come upon the last two items, in my mind they appear to be one item in the list joined together by the conjunction “and,” because there is no comma separating them.

Anyways, the Internet and the technocracy is adding a whole new twist to this. Part of the problem is that these technocrats are actually creating new words that will eventually find their way into the dictionary. If you know any techno-geeks, this is a scary thought, because you know they all are horrible at grammar (probably because they were busy playing solitaire on their notebook computers in the back rows of their high school English classes).

One techno-snafu in the semantic part of things on the Internet is the now ubiquitous verb “login.” It, of course, has become the verb form of the noun “login” (the name you use when you log in to a computer system). The word is rapidly replacing the now archaic (but much more sensible) verb phrase “log in.” It drives me nuts when I am told something like, “You may now login to the website.” Out of spite, as I read it to myself I pronounce this abomination of a verb with the noun pronunciation (the verb “login” is still pronounced by most like “log in”) in order to remind myself how ridiculous it is. (Notice, of course, what is I assume to be the verb “login” to the right of this very page. I’m going to need to change that! It’s a template, not my fault!)

I am loath to even mention the now-emerging (and even worse!) verb “logout.” Ugh!

There was a new grammatical abomination that I had just come across on the Internet that inspired me to write this post in the first place, but in my outrage I have forgotten what it was. I’ll update this post if I remember it.

In spite of my absurd lapse in memory, a point still remains: publishing is now oh so much more easier to do, now that we have the Internet, and this is bad news for language purists such as myself. However, I have a weird flipside take on the whole thing as well. (I’m a man of contradictions, I admit it!) A living language seems to develop and evolve out of bad grammar and so-called “street language,” which is really fascinating. I guess the Internet and technology are playing their part in that when we see the word “login” used as a verb. So I think there’s some kind of balance that should be maintained. We English teachers of the world should try to hold the line as much as possible, while at the same time this living language will develop in the conversations (as well as UI design and code) of the language-butchers who are the movers and shakers of our cyber society (as well as all those people in the real world).

Language is fun.

Have you noticed any grammatical mistakes or misspellings (ketchup or donuts, anyone?) that are now becoming mainstream and you are just pissed off about it? Or do you want to remind me how psychotic I am? Please leave a comment and let’s chat!

iPod, Therefore I Kill

I wonder, is there ever a point where a company can be held to be responsible for making something so good that people would kill each other over it? Tragically, this is what apparently has happened in New York. A fifteen-year-old boy stabbed twice in the chest by a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old boy upon refusing to give up his iPod. Children killing each other over iPods… reading the story makes me nauseous.

“Teenager slain for iPod, police say”

UPDATE: “Jobs calls family of stabbing victim”