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June 2019
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2004-09-07 I deny robbing the bank and ur rite, I won't use text lingo

In the late 1990s, when the relatively unknown Scottish soccer team Inverness Caledonian Thistle surprisingly beat Glasgow Celtic by 5 goals to 1, the following morning a Scottish tabloid headline read "Supercallyarefantastic - Celticareatrocious!".


With such an original headline, surely that subeditor could have happily retired, having achieved his/her finest hour as a wordsmith?


However, not all headlines are so clever; indeed some are even cringe- making. So far in my career, I have been talked about underneath such corny headlines as "Anyone for Tenors?", "Lend us a Tenor", and the pièce de resistance (not) "Fans Tosca their knickers at Celtic Tenors".


I am always only too aware when speaking to tabloid journalists that anything I may say can be twisted beyond recognition. For example, I may be asked "James, have you ever robbed a bank? I would of course reply "Absolutely not." The tabloid headline might read "Tenor emphatically denies bank robbery".


Then again, in the world of the tabloid press, there exists a whole other alternative language. Tabloid papers employ long-winded roundabout words  instead of `now' it is `at the present time', instead of someone `thinking', they are `of the opinion that&', and `and' becomes `in conjunction with'.


Redundant words are used in such phrases as `total annihilation', `close scrutiny' and `completely surrounded'. In Tabloidese, a dispute becomes a `battle', a fire turns into a `blaze' or an `inferno', instead of criticising we `blast' or `slam', we no longer make cuts but rather `axe', and where we used to impose we now `slap'.


This is of course not how we converse on a daily basis. If I attempt to investigate a mistake I may have made, I do not say "Would you mind hanging on a minute while I make a bid to probe my blunder".


Obviously language is continually evolving, but is it heading in a good direction?

Influences are "so" coming at us from all quarters  24/7! On any one night, we can watch and listen to our ol' china-plates the `East Enders', or our designer `Friends' in down-town Manhattan, or our `fair-dinkum' `Neighbours', or our own `Fair City' `howyas'. We hear American news-readers talking about `Toon-esia' (Tunisia) and `Ir-ock' (Iraq), Gadaffi becomes Gad-offi, and conjunctions are omitted in such sentences as "President Bush said (on) Friday". We are guilty of translating other country's city-names into our own language  München becomes Munich, Köln becomes Cologne, Firenze becomes Florence and in Spain, Edinburgh becomes Edimburgo. Should we not respect our neighbours and at least learn the names of their cities in their native language?


Letter-writing is a dying art-form. Those beautifully-crafted letters of old have been replaced by badly-constructed scrawls. I learned the art of letter-writing at the Model School, but now, aside from the odd letter, the nearest I get to putting Bean Uí Cooke's expert teaching into practice is by sending a few postcards to friends from abroad.


When learning a foreign language we learn the basics of its grammar, and yet English grammar is more or less ignored in schools. Punctuation is so misused we now employ those dots and dashes to make `smileys';-)

As Lynn Truss says in her best-seller "Eats, shoots and leaves", one day we may only see these dots and dashes as smileys:-(and forget that they were once commas, full-stops and punctuation marks:-o Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the computer-age, especially now that I am becoming more and more computer-literate, but constant emailing means that hand-writing is disimproving, grammar and punctuation has become optional, and email is replacing snail-mail.

I am trying as hard as possible to avoid the computer lingo, and refuse to include `LOL' (Laugh-out-loud) and the like into my vocabulary. I am constantly partaking in textual intercourse, and am justly proud of my speed-texting, but again I refuse to get into all this new, extremely irritating text language. When I was at primary school, I am pretty sure I never wrote `James woz ear' on a desk either.

"Ur rite", I hear you text, "but wots de prob wit dis n.e.way? Y shd we not uz it 2day? Its gr8. Its da biz. R shd we 4get it b4 its 2 late?" "Up 2 U", sez I. BCNU. :-)