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Move, Queen’s English! SMSese rules the class

Those who teach English literature to students say the language of text messages and Internet chatting has crept into students’ writing in a big way, reports Jatin Gandhi.

entertainment Updated: Jul 07, 2007 02:40 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times

"Adela knw she cudnt hve bn hpy wid Ronny n felt she wud b stifld in India where her respect fo absolute truth wud nt b honored."

This isn’t a sentence given for correction to students in a grammar class; it is the opening line of an answer on EM Forster’s A Passage to India by a student of a master’s degree course in English at a central university. He wrote this a few days ago in his examination.

Those who teach English literature to undergraduate and postgraduate students say the language of text messages and internet chatting has crept into students’ writing in a big way. So ‘before’ is now ‘b4’, and ‘coz’ for ‘because’ is common. A university teacher says, "A student actually put a smiley while paraphrasing a poem by Keats."

Delhi’s Ramjas College has included lessons on avoiding abbreviations, slang and SMS shortcuts in college assignments and exams in its ‘Academic Skills’ programme. Professor Debraj Mookherjee of the college says, "In spite of the programme, it takes time to cure students of the problem."

Professor Harish K Trivedi of Delhi University’s English department says students use such language not just because it is a fad but also to "disguise incompetence".

Dr Surbhi Goel, who teaches English at Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, says, "SMSese is the lingua franca of Gen X and it’s now threatening to permanently change the tone of academic discourse. We seem to be fighting a losing battle." Professor Rana Nayar of PU says, "Students argue that even Oxford University accepts the use of abbreviations."

A fine argument to make you lol. For the uninitiated, that’s ‘laugh out loud’.

First Published: Jul 07, 2007 02:02 IST

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