Sunday, February 27, 2005

Riting Nglish in SMS

Language purists often decry the "corruption" of the English language through SMS and email. The argument goes that the so-called messages passed to and fro via this media cannot be considered "English". They aren't just spelt incorrectly but there, also, appears to be a total absence of syntax, punctuation and grammar. And to make matters worse, the messages don't even "look" English!

But this argument has a curious history and goes back, at least, fifty or sixty years since popular culture became an intrinsic part of people's lives through cinema, radio and television. Back then, it was popular culture that was vilified for its so-called corrupting influence and blamed for promoting slangs and colloquialisms in everyday speech.

Of course, the nature of popular culture was also undergoing a seismic shift during this period of time and the reaction was understandable. Entertainment was becoming less elitist and market forces became a determining factor in deciding what's in and what's out. And as far as language was concerned, the "prescriptive" approach found no takers and soon culture began to find its inspiration in imitating the sounds and rhythms of the common "man". Hence, "standard" English, for example, was no longer seen as the lingua franca of popular culture but became just another means for denoting a character of a particular social class and/ or, a particular kind of education.

In this context, the so-called English used in SMS and email raises certain valid questions.
Are we looking at a dialect spoken by a new sub-culture? Does this dialect require such linguistic anarchy to justify its existence? Is this a shining example of the way people communicate in the twenty-first century? And, most importantly, are we faced with a new linguistic tool for today’s popular culture.

But before we ponder hard over these questions, it is worthwhile to remember that, sometimes, laziness plays a crucial role in mangling grammatical forms and in omitting punctuation. Economics of space, connection speed and the crushing need to rush through time are, also, seen as fellow culprits. But if we are honest enough we need to ask ourselves: no matter what, can we truly justify the absence of grammar and punctuation in our need to communicate as quickly as possible?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine morning

Valentine is a day of love and my doggie gave a little demonstration of dog-love on the morning of 14th February.

It must have been 3 am when she started barking loudly. It was an unusual kind of bark because she didn’t shatter the ear drums like the way she does when she spots cats in the garden. This was somewhat high pitched but with a gentler sound. As she continued barking loudly, we were curious and looked out of the window to see if there was anyone or anything lurking outside. Was it a cat or a potential burglar? But there was nothing at all.

Finally, we heard a faint sound out in the distance. It was a yelping sound that gradually grew louder and louder till the yelp sounded more like a tearful bark than anything else. We looked out to see what it was and saw a frightened little puppy in our garden. It was, apparently, lost and it was yelping in response to our doggie’s barks.

And then, it dawned on us as to why our doggie was barking for such a long time and in such a strange manner. She was, in fact, communicating to this puppy and guiding it to come to our garden and find shelter there. I don’t know if there is any scientific explanation for this but that’s the only plausible reason I can find for this behaviour.

We opened the door and thought of checking the puppy out and, possibly, take her home or something. But sadly, the moment it saw us it ran our of the garden and our of our housing compound as fast as possible. Sad to say, we didn’t follow the dog and simply returned to our house and continued with our broken sleep. But our doggie, on the other hand, was restless. I don’t know if its possible to read a dog’s face but that morning and, in fact, the whole day my doggie looked very concerned and was constantly looking out of the window to see whether or not the puppy was there.

In fact yesterday morning when I woke up at my usual time, I heard the puppy bark outside my house. I stepped outdoors and couldn’t see it anywhere in the garden nor in the compound and so I had to walk outside the compound and I saw this puppy standing on the road near a makeshift basketball court. But as soon as I walked towards it, the puppy ran away and no amount of coaxing and shouting helped because it was nowhere to be found.

I don’t want to give up and I plan to get hold of that puppy someday soon because I don’t think it’s safe for a young pup to be on the road on its own. I plan to take it to the dog shelter so they could find someone to adopt it or, better still, I might look for someone who is interested in a pup.

But I was quite intrigued by my doggie’s behaviour because, for the first time, I saw a demonstration of her maternal instincts. She literally went out of her to protect this puppy in the best way she could. In my opinion, this was an act of love that my doggie showed to a complete stranger and it is something we can certainly learn from.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.


It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.


I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
remember the limitations of being human.


It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.


I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.


I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”


It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.


It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.


-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

(got this piece while browsing the web and thought it must be featured on my blog so I can read this whenever I want)