By Abdulwasi’i Ilyas
An era of social media abbreviations and grammatical flaws
The English language has once again been victimized by attackers who whiplash and mutilate it beyond recognition in the name of fast tracking communication across social media.
A great deal has been done to discover rare usage of words and abbreviations coined to maintain speed and alacrity while chatting. Abbreviations such as OMG, (“oh my God”), LMAO(“laughing my ass off”), lol (“laughing out loudly”), brb (“be right back”) to name just a few, are employed to facilitate conversations across various platforms. Words like “straight” are now written as “str8”, “cu” or “cya” for “see you” among others.
Almost an entire dictionary of English can be generated for this kind of English usage. The greatest threat this pose to the English language is that proponents of this kind of language find it difficult to write in pure and lucid English.
Balykis and the” I am now a corpse” hype
Following the euphoria and fevered jubilation that greeted her arrival on camp for the National Youth Service as it’s a social medium norm in our climes, She took to her face book page and wrote “swearing things, it’s fun, Now a corpse, #corpse weeeee#”. The rest was history.
Her post went viral on most social and online media, including Nairaland.com, one of Nigeria’s most visited site. Her friends noticed the popularity or should I say notoriety she had garnered by that singular decision to pull out her GSM phone from wherever it was to seek social media relevance. She got the relevance but at a great expense. They drew her attention to the blunder and she had since then brought down the post. That was rather too late, snapshots of it are ubiquitous in the internet.
Rather than cutting her loses and moving on, she opt to make amends and she wrote “Abeg ooo na corps nt corpse ooo its typing error and nothing bad will happen 2 anyone of us and if u ar confuse u ar free 2 confront or cal me no. bodi above mistak” confused? who? why? call you for what?
Beside the diatribes, tirades and mockery than flooded her face book page, many online observers saw the opportunity to lambaste the Nigerian school system for churning out the likes of Rafiu Balykis (as spelt on her face book page). someone wrote on nairaland forum “Lol ! Is never her fault rather she’s a product of born to rule quota system of education ….”
For this young graduate it is quite unfortunate that she will for now serve as the paradigm to weigh how an overwhelming majority of youths online and offline resorts to using weird abbreviations and an abysmally poor grammar in hitting home their point. It did not come across as happenstance that she posted such adulterations. The entire conversation galvanized by her posts corroborate that point. In response to the hype , one of her friends wrote “i believe every one of dem spreading d news are so daft coz i am very sure dat dey al knw its a typographical error and i think dey are all Jobless and dont knw wot to do wit dere precious tym”. He would fare better to draw the attention of Balylis to the use of “typographical error” as against her usage of “typing error” than to tag all of us jobless.
Good English grammar, better salaries
To dismiss poor and incorrect usage of English grammar as nothing worthy of concern; since English is not our mother tongue, is not to understand the influence and power the English language wields in the comity of World languages.
A member of the lower parliament from Jigawa state presents and tackles pressing national issues with the sincerity and vigor necessary to drive progressive and purposeful legislation. He however does that with an accent and grammar that is far from polished and appropriate. One of his sympathizers was quick to pacify the man that English language is not the test of intelligence. He definitely needs a rethink.
English language is the third most spoken language with 360 million speakers worldwide. It is widely acclaimed as the world’s lingua franca of global business. Research suggests that better English correlates with better economies, higher salaries and greater earnings.
“In our latest edition of the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), the largest ranking of English skills by country, we found that in almost every one of the 60 countries and territories surveyed, a rise in English proficiency was connected with a rise in per capita income.” wrote Christopher McCormick of the Harvard business review. Countries with better English have better economies.
This is so, for the fact that human resource people, employers and social media users know that the devil’s in the details. They have little parameters at their disposal to judge you by. Grammatical and spelling errors reveal your clumsiness, carelessness, your lack of attention to details and the lack of language skills.
Some employers say they would out rightly turn down an applicants with poor grammar even if they are qualified for the job. People who speak and write in flawless grammar come across as more educated, so the rise in their salaries and the correlative growth in the economies of countries with better English speakers.
In a period of massive job cuts coupled with unprecedented spikes in unemployment figures, Balykis comes out fresh from school with such a predicament that can jeopardize her chances of landing a good job.
Let her learn from her mistakes and hone her grammar skills. We all need to proofread and double check whatever we are dishing out for public view. She may yet get another chance at redeeming herself and upending the current opinion the public holds of her.