Just a thought… Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going. [Rita Mae Brown]
We’re learning a new language these days, you and I, and I wonder if you’ve noticed it in the way you type your communications with people of another generation. We sure have.
Let me try something out on you. Someone says, “Sorry, I made a mistake in that last email. I’ve corrected it and you should be okay to go ahead now with no more problems.”
You reply, “Thanks a lot.”
Now, how would you expect that person to read that response? Would it be, “Thanks for fixing it, bonehead – because of that mistake, I’ve been inconvenienced and I have to go back and try again?”
Or would you read it as, “I appreciate you letting me know that it’s been fixed?”
The way you decipher that – what you read into the response – may be a generational thing. This isn’t scientific (although, if you can find me a government grant, I’ll happily do the research); it’s just a realization that I’ve had over the past few years while dealing with people of my own age, as well as of the next generation’s age (i.e. in their twenties).
The way I’d respond to someone in their twenties, for example, would be with an exclamation mark. Otherwise, they might infer that I was upset, as per the first response. I’ve had to school Rob gently in how to respond to producers – say, those of our daughter’s age – with whom we’re now doing freelance work. He’s been encouraged to add the occasional exclamation mark so that we can be read as being friendly and cooperative! And not surly and disgruntled.
There can only be one reason for this proliferation of cheery punctuation (and the need for it): social media. I remember a younger co-worker was posting on our radio station website and I (hopefully gently) reminded him that we didn’t need an exclamation mark after every sentence – we weren’t a comic book! (See, I added one there, so that I didn’t sound cranky, and I do hope I didn’t.)
But it’s everywhere now and this is the way we adapt or die in the darkness. At least, from where we sit. Because the last thing you want to do is be perceived (incorrectly, of course) as uncooperative or haughty. Unless somehow it was misspelled and they meant “hottie!”
It’s all part of our ever-changing language. Not every change is for the best, but sometimes you just go with the flow and say things like…go with the flow. There’s something I hear all the time now and I mean ALL the time now, and it makes me a little crazy, but I’m trying to get over it. It’s the changing of the sound of the letter T. This happened long ago in England where “better” might sometimes sound more like “beh-ah” (try saying it aloud and you’ll get what I mean). But now the T is being dropped on this side of the pond and, darn it, it’s important. Not impor-ant, as we’re hearing more and more, but imporTant.
A few weeks ago we were treated to a different broadcast team calling a Blue Jays game on Facebook. And the guy saying Russell Martin’s name was calling him Russell Mar-Inn. Again and again. When I tweeted about it, someone suggested he take that second T in ToronTOE that he was so determined to pronounce and put it back in Russell’s last name. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
Now, if I drop a T, you’ll understand why….
Have a great day and we’ll talk to you here tomorrow.