Spoken Language Essay Texting And Driving

Texting has long been bemoaned as the downfall of the written word, “penmanship for illiterates,” as one critic called it. To which the proper response is LOL. Texting properly isn’t writing at all — it’s actually more akin to spoken language. And it’s a “spoken” language that is getting richer and more complex by the year.

First, some historical perspective. Writing was only invented 5,500 years ago, whereas language probably traces back at least 80,000 years. Thus talking came first; writing is just an artifice that came along later. As such, the first writing was based on the way people talk, with short sentences — think of the Old Testament. However, while talk is largely subconscious and rapid, writing is deliberate and slow. Over time, writers took advantage of this and started crafting tapeworm sentences such as this one, from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “The whole engagement lasted above 12 hours, till the gradual retreat of the Persians was changed into a disorderly flight, of which the shameful example was given by the principal leaders and the Surenas himself.”

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No one talks like that casually — or should. But it is natural to desire to do so for special occasions, and that’s what oratory is, like the grand-old kinds of speeches that William Jennings Bryan delivered. In the old days, we didn’t much write like talking because there was no mechanism to reproduce the speed of conversation. But texting and instant messaging do — and a revolution has begun. It involves the brute mechanics of writing, but in its economy, spontaneity and even vulgarity, texting is actually a new kind of talking. There is a virtual cult of concision and little interest in capitalization or punctuation. The argument that texting is “poor writing” is analogous, then, to one that the Rolling Stones is “bad music” because it doesn’t use violas. Texting is developing its own kind of grammar and conventions.

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Texting is developing its own kind of grammar. Take LOL. It doesn’t actually mean “laughing out loud” in a literal sense anymore. LOL has evolved into something much subtler and sophisticated and is used even when nothing is remotely amusing. Jocelyn texts “Where have you been?” and Annabelle texts back “LOL at the library studying for two hours.” LOL signals basic empathy between texters, easing tension and creating a sense of equality. Instead of having a literal meaning, it does something — conveying an attitude — just like the -ed ending conveys past tense rather than “meaning” anything. LOL, of all things, is grammar.

Of course no one thinks about that consciously. But then most of communication operates below the radar. Over time, the meaning of a word or an expression drifts — meat used to mean any kind of food, silly used to mean, believe it or not, blessed.

Civilization, then, is fine — people banging away on their smartphones are fluently using a code separate from the one they use in actual writing, and there is no evidence that texting is ruining composition skills. Worldwide people speak differently from the way they write, and texting — quick, casual and only intended to be read once — is actually a way of talking with your fingers.

All indications are that America’s youth are doing it quite well. Texting, far from being a scourge, is a work in progress.

This essay is adapted from McWhorter’s talk at TED 2013.

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The Use of Cell Phones While Driving is Dangerous Essay

1808 Words8 Pages

Although cell phones have not been around for a very long time, they have become a key part of our lives. People use their cell phones for just about everything such as: texting, talking, schedule planning, internet surfing, etc. Sometimes we can even do two or more of these things at the same time. Unfortunately, people are also choosing the wrong time to be using their cell phones: while they are driving. As a society, we have become so focused on how much we can do at one time that we are willing to risk our personal safety as well as the safety of others because we can’t put down our cell phones. Using a handheld cell phone while driving is dangerous to the driver themselves for a couple of good reasons. One such reason is that…show more content…

When driving, sometimes it is difficult to focus on the road which makes it easy to forget that the roads are shared by everyone and not for your exclusive use. Other drivers on the road take notice of drivers on their cell phones whether they want to or not because of the hazards they create. Erratic driving is something that we all get quite worked up about, especially if it makes us late or is otherwise a direct inconvenience to us. Scott Clark, veteran web business strategist and the owner of the consultancy BuzzMaven Labs, says “[He] came within inches of a bad accident because of a young driver being on the phone and crossing three lanes of traffic at 45 mph.” Drivers are also tailgating you because of, again, the inability to maintain a constant speed because they are on the phone. Clark warns of “[…] the rusty red Camaro [tailgating] the minivan full of kids.” Drivers who use cell phones while driving are also highly dangerous to pedestrians. A young woman killed a pedestrian on a bicycle while she was texting on her phone. She may not have intended to end that person’s life, but she made the poor decision to drive and text which she has to live with for the rest of her life. Any one of us could have been that poor individual on that fateful day. I used to ride my bike everywhere, mostly using the roads in the way that bikes are supposed to. That just proves that point that everybody

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