It is fairly common for people to respond to complaints of poor grammar on the internet with indifference. Many think that because communication via internet and text message is informal, proper language is not necessary. While in some situations that might be true, people have become less weary of crossing the barrier between formal and informal communication. There are all too many reports of embarrassing predicaments caused by inappropriate use of “text-speak”. Text slang has been known to pop up everywhere from school papers to job applications.
The problem extends beyond lack of capitalization. Columbian.com reported that students use shortcuts in their work such as “ur” instead of “you’re”. They write “luv” in place of “love”, and they often neglect to capitalize i’ s and the beginning of new sentences. Students even utilize “LOL” and “OMG” in their assignments. Teachers have come to accept that they will see these informal usages in their students’ work and learned the best way to deal with it is have the students turn in rough drafts. They circle the informal spelling and grammar and the students correct it before handing in the final assignment.
A far less forgiving arena in which text-speak has been spotted is business communication. Laura Wiegert wrote about such an occurrence in the Herald Times Reporter. A college graduate ended her cover letter by informing her potential employer that she was “looking 4ward to working 4 U”. Writing “there” instead of “their” is enough to get a resume trashed, so needless to say this candidate was not hired.
Using the same shortcuts one uses for informal communication for school or business reflects poorly on the person and institution they represent. If you are prone to using text-speak without realizing it, it may be worth investing in a grammar checking software like WhiteSmoke 2011. In addition to checking grammar and spelling, WhiteSmoke also offers suggestions for style improvement. WhiteSmoke Translator, a feature of the program, is a really useful tool to help people who are less fluent in English express accurately and properly what they want to say.