Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do you see anything that needs to be changed in this sentence?

I can't take it any more!

I've been keeping my mouth closed on this issue, but no more! Grammar Girl must speak out at last!

Why, for the love of everything true and beautiful, must recording artists insist on cannibalizing our venerable language by using Internet English in their song titles!? WHY?

In text messaging, this truncated form of English, where nearly every word is reduced to a letter and every phrase is reduced to its initials, is almost acceptable, because typing on a keyboard where every key is half the size of the fingertip trying to tap it can be too tedious to bother with protocol. In instant messaging, this is less forgivable, but still not unforgivable--at least for those who have not fully mastered the art of rapid touch typing.

But in publishing (music, written, or otherwise), we have people called editors. Every bit of media released into the wild is subjected to extensive review. If the songwriter is somehow incapable of using a keyboard (at least, the kind that says QWERTY instead of Casio), then someone else at the recording company should be able to pick up the slack and excise these deformed words from the album.

But for whatever reason, they don't do it! And we end up with mutant song titles like "We R Who We R" (Ke$ha), and "U+UR Hand" (Pink). Katy Perry is guilty in the first degree, churning out "Hot N Cold" and "Ur so Gay" one album, and taking spelling to a whole new low with "California Gurls" the next.

I would assume this was a recent trend, but for the existence of the linguistic atrocity "Nothing compares 2 U," which first came out in the mid-80's.

Somebody, explain to me what we gain by replacing real words with single letters. Does it really contribute some meaning to the song title? Do we do it because being a musician is not a creative enough job and we must compensate for it by creatively modifying our language? Or is it just for the sole purpose of annoying Valerie and grammarians like her? And am I just adding fuel to the fire when I give this rampant illiteracy coverage on my blog?


Geoff said...

Obviously, I agree with you.

I also like the term 'linguistic atrocity' so I might steal it.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that it usually takes more key presses to achieve the abbreviated words than if one simply types the entire word. To, for instance. One press to switch to numeric. One press for the number and another press to return to text. 3 strokes to type a 2 character word. The only time it actually makes sense to me is on Twitter where the posting length is so short. I'm with you.