Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I've had my cell phone -- my only phone -- for several years now. I recently discovered that it's a camera-phone, too. Oh. Who knew? Not I. Call me old-fashioned, but when I want to take a picture, I reach for a camera.

Funny we don't have cameras with secret phones inside. Or do we?

Anyway, this morning there was a text message. Now, T-Mobile sends me a text each month after I've paid my bill. It annoys me. I know what it is, yet I seem to have to retrieve it anyhow, else it'll keep reminding me. I also think I pay ten cents per message, but I could be wrong about that.

Once a friend from Ghana's kid brother texted me. And that's another thing: I really don't like this trend of changing nouns into verbs. This is an alchemy I'm not quite sure about. Yes, it's been done before but it seems that it's being done too much these days and too quickly, too. Didn't we used to have to wait a couple decades before we'd make a switch like that? Good heavens, one person sent a text message to someone and by the next Saturday, they starting "texting" each other.

And sure, I google things and soon you'll see that I even texted someone. Or did I message someone? It's just not right.

Anyway, this young African sent me a message on my phone all the way across the Atlantic. Happy Mother's Day! he wrote, not knowing that I neither am nor currently have a mother. So when I got a text message this morning (or did I just get a text?) that said, "Who this?" I thought it was from an African. If whoever wrote it could come up with a question mark, I should think s/he could've come up with an apostrophe-s, too: "Who's this?" But English is the second, third, or even fourth language for every Ghanaian I met, so they're forgiven.

I decided to respond with just my last name. I mean, maybe someone was scrolling through his or her numbers and didn't recognize mine and just wanted to know if it could be deleted. So I hit 6 to get me started with MNO. Is it possible that my readers know all about texting? Maybe the majority does. I sure don't. It took me way too long to type Nicolazzo. It was additionally maddening because Nicolazzo was actually suggested to me by the djinn who lives in my phone (possibly next to that camera), but I couldn't figure out how to access it until I was on the second Z.

It took a moment to figure out where SEND is, but I did, and I sent it. There was an immediate response. Pin me and send pic please.

I am a shade too young to have been "pinned" by any boy in high school. I think that went with poodle skirts somehow, which I saw in first grade. Was it a fraternity pin a boy gave a girl to signify that they were Going Steady? Does that mean he was in college? What was he doing dating a high school girl? Well, whatever, I was never pinned so I don't know how to pin someone else, especially if I'm to do it electronically.

If there's a picture of me in my phone, I don't know how it got there or how to send it, so that's out, too. Not to mention: Who is this yahoo? And how'd s/he get my number? I have no doubt that if I sent a photo of myself, s/he'd toss her/his phone into the gold fish bowl and run from the room screaming while I got shoved into the backseat of a cop car, my head being pressed down so I don't bump it on the door frame even though they intend to work me over when they get me in that small dank room with an unshaded light bulb hanging ominously from a single sizzling cord.

It ain't easy being middle-aged.

Well, I managed to text No and the person wrote back Okay, which seemed odd. I mean, we're texting. Doesn't that mean that there should be no extra characters? In fact, I feel a little bad that I kept that second Z in my name. Maybe I should've typed ... er, texted Ncolzo. Anyway, the kid actually spelled out Okay instead of using OK. Maybe that means it really wasn't a kid, but was a geezer of some sort and s/he's the one who needs to be in that dark scary room with the dangling light bulb. S/he's some ninetysomething pervert trolling for innocent nearly-sixty-year-olds who are merely trying to get along in these troubled times.

Of course I know that language is always in flux, and I'm okay with that. Again, I remember when judgment had two E's: judgement. That's fine. But the changing language is like global warming. It's a natural phenomenon. It's been happening forever. Nature simply adapts, as is Her wont. But mankind has been too thoughtless, so the earth is warming much more quickly that it used to, and Nature simply can't adjust that quickly.

Language took centuries, then decades to change. Now it takes a week or two. And I can't keep up. On Etsy.com, artists invite potential customers to "convo" them about custom orders. I don't know what that is, and neither does my brand new Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Okay. Of course I just googled it. It relates to "conversation." Then why not conver? It's like people who want my addy. Usually it's typed anyhow, so why not call it addr? Or gee -- splurge and spell it out! Address.

And here's my reaction to all that ... Here in Blogtown and also in my emails, I spell out every frappin' thing. I spell out the time: I'll be there by eleven-thirty, although sometimes I use a colon instead of a hyphen: I'll be there by eleven:thirty. There are three colons in that one sentence. I believe I've overdrawn my account ... er ... acct.


Jason said...

I make sure I spell out all my words when replying to your blog. I also attempt to use correct punctuation and grammar. Donnie can't spell to save her life. Absolute tosh, she is! I can't but help calling out her misspellings. When she texts me, it's damn near unreadable... Can't wait to see what the next 20 years hold for the our language...

Anonymous said...

I think Donnie inherited her spelling skills from her great-grandma Noble. ;-)
(I'm her Grandma Noble)

xzentricity43 said...

Spkg frm rcnt xprienc, I suspect abbrvtd txtng is a learned survival skill by persons who nvr wantd 2 learn yet found that their other options wer evn less appealng than learning 2 txt

Anonymous said...

If you remember when "judgment" had the letter "e" in two places, you're either WAY older than I thought, or you grew up in Britain. I have a 1953 edition of "The American College Dictionary," won in a spelling bee while I was in Junior High School, that spells "judgment" just like that -- one "e." As an afterthought, the dictionary says "Also, esp. Brit., judgement." The "esp. Brit." is in italics; I like to imagine that the definer assumed a slight scowl while adding this because, after all, it is the AMERICAN College Dictionary.

Anonymous said...

In case you're wondering, Barbara, the "Anonymous" source of the dictionary reference was me -- Eunice. (I usually sign my comments; forgot this time.)

PsychMajor said...

Txtng is apprntly rsltng in severe deficits in the ability to communicate in proper writing fashion. There seems to be a trend of avoidance of writing inasmuch as many youngsters can get away with. The trend seems to be leading to the decline in cognitive functionality, perhaps because thought processes are also being abbreviated in conjunction with written communications' processes - not to mention verbal communications' processes!

One of my college professors just told me of a situation where she'd asked her class to take notes. A student asked, "What does that mean?" This is mid-term in the spring semester, and NOW a student is asking what is meant by note-taking??

Another professor told me of an essay that was submitted in writing, per his instructions. Except that his instructions included the specifications of using 12 pt. text, Times Roman font, and double-spacing, with 1-inch indents. Still, one student interpreted that, or simply focused on "submit in writing," and turned in a hand-written paper with the explanation that the instructions said to submit the paper in WRITING. Aaaghhh!! Scary.

Losing the ability to write (by hand or using a keyboard) does indicate a decline in cognitive abilities. Perhaps the very fear of facing a written task (since writing is NEVER done unless it's a TASK, apparently) is so befuddling the younger generation that the stress responses kick in, flooding the mesolimbic system with dopamine (at least!) and all rational hope of a rational thought process is lost.

Indeed, it may be more severe, with the "fight or flight" response from the rush of epinephrine and norepinephrine flooding the brain and body so that younger folks perceive WRITING assignments (tasks) as DANGEROUS stimuli from which they need to fight or run away from.

Hmm, and I'm not a Brit, and I wasn't born until ten years after that 1953 dictionary, yet I grew up with the spelling of "judgement" as the ONLY acceptable spelling. I still spell it with two e's, and am annoyed when the spelling checker in MS Word insists that I have misspelled it.

As for "addy," to me that refers to my dear grandmother, Grammy Addy, or, Adelene in formal speak (or written TASKS).

Ah, and I, too, received a txt msg on my cellphone recently, and haven't a clue who sent it, other than the indicators that it was a solicitation of some sort, to entice me to buy something.

Considering how long it took me to figure out how to spell out names by using the alpha-numeric (teeny tiny) keypad on my cell phone, simple to add contacts to the (teeny tiny) address book therein, I wouldn't dream of engaging in txt msgng.

Though oddly enough, I am paying for the service, if only because I did use the teeny tiny camera on my cellphone and wanted to transfer the photos from my phone to my computer. For an additional five bucks a month, I can transfer 400 photos OR text messages.

Ha, and it is ironic to me that I use the cellphone's camera more than I use the cellphone's PHONE!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...I have perhaps another 20 pages to write, er, TYPE, for my teaching class, for which I have already submitted over 60 pages in the past few weeks...and miles to go before I sleep...and miles to go before I sleep...ah, how grand to be so old-fashioned as to ENJOY real, whole words, and to be a veritable GLUTTON with them!

Sure, I admit to referring to this present writing task as, "that damn paper," but it has more to do with my disgust for one of the textbook authors that I am forced to reference and properly cite, even if she doesn't know the reticular activating system (RAS) from an olfactory bulb!

Hmph. And yet, wheee, let's WRITE!

Don Dewsnap said...

Hmm, normally I comment on your enchanting blog, but PsychMajor is a tough act to follow. I'll try to sneak in sooner next time. btw, The American College Dictionary is one of the best of its ilk, in my opinion. I was bereft when my 1963 edition finally fell apart.

PsychMajor said...

Okay, let the dictionaries come out to play!

In the 1949 edition of Webster's Illustrated Dictionary, we see: judgment or judgement. Poof, right there on the top line, happy cohorts with or without the 2nd "e."

In the 1962 edition of Webster's New School & Office Dictionary, we see: judgment. That's it. No wiggle room for a cohort with the unsightly growth of an extra "e."

Yet in the humongous 1964 edition I have of the Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, we see more tolerance for the extra-e'd step-sister, yet she has been squashed by her dominant one-e'd twin and the definitions, and gasps for air while clinging to life on the last line, with the stay in your place tone of: "Also, judgement." Poor dear.

Not only that, in this particular dictionary that weighs almost as much as I do, and requires a 20-mule team, or the harnessing of The Wildkits, Ivy, Suzy-QT, Pecan Pie, Baby Bear, and some of the feral and stray kitties from the front porch to haul it's heft from the bookshelf, the "j's" only take up pages 977 through a fourth of page 994. It would appear, therefore, that "j's" are in a minority class, and surely we must take care to avoid bias and discrimination (gasp!) with these rare and special letter life-forms.

That said, moving on to the 1966 Funk & Wagnalls' Standard College Dictionary, we again see: judgment. Someone has circled it. Perhaps the same someone who used a red marker to color in the "o's" on the title page, despite the clear instructions (warning?) on a label affixed to the inside of the front cover of: PUPILS to whom this textbook is issued must not write on any page or mark any part of it in any way.

Perhaps someone was so moved by the one-e'd judgment, he/she expressed what we can interpret as anger or possibly love through the color red. Maybe it was simply an act of defiance towards the PUPIL instructions (warning?)? Maybe the offender or artist was not a PUPIL, and sought to express his/her freedom from the instructions (warning?) to PUPILS?

Ah, and lest I forget, Funky's version does include: Also judgement, on the last line of the definitions.

Now, by the 1979 edition of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, we see: judgment or judgement, sharing the top line again, perhaps indicative of increasing tolerance for minorities and/or hard-to-love step-sisters?

And so it goes...with my apologies to Don Dewsnap, if I have in any way disenchanted bien's enchanting (and enchanted?) blog with my nattering babbling, which by any other name still does not emit the fragrance of a rose. Ah, and my sympathies to Don Dewsnap, as regards the untimely demise of his 1964 dictionary binding. That tears at my heartstrings perhaps more than the sympathy I feel for the two-e'd step-sister of judgment. Goodness.

Ah, and so this is what aged and aging college students do on Spring Break, hmm? Perhaps I should start working on my research paper instead? I wonder if any of my Breaking of the Spring cohorts are lounging on sunny beaches, surrounded by Igloo coolers, Coppertone dispensers, and stacks of dusty dictionaries? Eek, imagine what the salty air might do to the precious bindings! And now, I must AWAY! Taking my sweet and sour musings with me.

PsychMajor said...

Oops! My sympathies are for Don Dewsnap as regards his 1963 dictionary's bindery dissolution!

A Freudian slip? An unconscious avoidance of associating dilapidation with the year 1963, the year of my birth, as well as the birth of my house; neither of which I am inclined to associate with dilapidation...even though it requires due diligence for living in DENIAL! Ha! How grand to have free will!