Monday, May 10, 2010

Grammatically Naughty Twitter?

2 B or not 2 B, that is the ?

(...what the *%#@*?)

I’m pretty sure Shakespeare never wrote the famous line from Hamlet in shortcut form. Not even if the brilliant line came to him while he was walking home after drinking all night at The Anchor Inn. I just can’t picture him pulling out his quill, inkpot, and parchment paper and scribbling down in Twitter text.

Why is it thinking up clever ways to fit in the “140” characters that is “Twitter,” has somehow created an instant forgiveness of how we write? Plus, when did our thoughts become so important they MUST be sent out instantly to our followers regardless of content or errors?

Don’t misunderstand me, I LOVE Twitter and I must admit I even love writing in grammatically incorrect form sometimes...

…It makes me feel naught!

And since my nickname years ago was “By the Book Jane”, feeling naughty over grammar, as you can guess is about as wild as I get.

But, the questions I want answered are:

1) “What will the long-term effects of “140” character thoughts create”?

2) In a few years will “140” seem like too many characters to spend time reading?

3) Besides the beauty of the written word, is there anything else we are chancing to lose with the leaps and bounds of technical communication?

I’m not saying short is bad; obviously there are many examples of brilliantly written, short works. I am saying in my humble opinion, (or IMHO as some of you short-cutters will recognize,) that with the snowballing affect Twitter is having on our lives I hope it can work towards a love of writing and literature where there once was none.

Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I'm thinking, if just one percent of twitter users who normally wouldn’t pick up a book become inspired to read a classic novel, then I think even Shakespeare would give his okay to the written shortcuts. And if anyone deserves to give the okay on shortcut writing, it would be Shakespeare and all the people who in their lifetimes could only express their words with quills and inkpots.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep looking to the amazing Debbie Ohi and the brilliant and fabulous Jane Friedman for savvy guidance to all things technical.

ps: If you have not had the pleasure of reading the “To be or not to be” scene in its entirety, here it is from Wikipedia.


William Shakespeare

act three, scene one.

To be or not to be– that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
 and, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
 No more – and by a sleep to say we end
 the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to – ‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, 
 for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 
 must give us pause. There's the respect that makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, 
Th’ oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, 
 The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? 
 Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, 
 And enterprises of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, 
 And lose the name of action.—Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

Vi ses Darlings!


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Jane. :-)

  2. Your post reminds me of a Twitter Grammar Police movement - have you heard about this? Here's a good article covering it:

  3. Good questions, Jane. Sometimes I think, who knows where we'll be. You can never imagine how things will change. Plus, so much comes and goes in waves. Perhaps wordy will become popular down the road. :)

  4. Interesting post. I'm guilty of writing in short cut form, especially when texting friends my own age. Other than that I'm not a big fan of "teen speak" or sloppy grammar. People are getting increasingly impatient and if something is too long they can't be bothered to read it. It's a bit like reading the headline but skipping the article, isn't it?

  5. I just found your blog through a link on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. I'll be adding yours to my list of favorite blogs to visit.

  6. Hi Jane. I found your blog through the post you did on the Guide to Literary Agents. I recognized your picture immediately. We sat next to each other at the SCBWI Writer's Intensive. Your points about the 7 things you've learned was "write" on.

    I'm following your blog now and look forward to following your journey. I have a blog too. Come check me out when you get a chance. I'm still in the game as well, trying to learn, grow and get published.

  7. Thank you everyone. I've just returned from two weeks in Carmel, Ca. Tried to go "low tech" while there and didn't check in on my blog.

    ICQB and June, Welcome! I'm so happy to hear from you. It's such a small world, I remember sitting next to you at the SCBWI too June!

    I'm going to start following you guys too, and I'll be updating my blog in a few days.