A little rant from my column in the Evening Chronicle this week. Please tell me I’m not alone in being incensed by this….
Still waiting for baby to arrive, I sat with my feet up on Monday lunchtime to watch the opening coverage of the Wimbledon fortnight. Ah, Wimbledon – that great British tradition. Overpriced strawberries and cream, polite applause, the ‘Today at Wimbledon’ highlights show…. but wait a minute! What on earth is this? As Sue Barker went through the running order for the coverage, she told the viewers to catch up on the day’s play by watching something called ‘Wimbledon 2day’.
Even something as traditional as ‘Today at Wimbledon’ is not safe from the insistence of modern TV producers to make everything an assault on the senses. We essentially had Claire Balding presenting TFI Wimbledon in an outdoor bar set-up complete with awkward-looking studio audience who’d had too much sun, to show how much fun everyone was having. Oh, and there were some highlights of some tennis matches as well, but that was all secondary to John McEnroe rambling on incoherently as if he’d had one Pimm’s too many. And of course, we were all being encouraged to share our unimportant opinions using the obligatory #Wimbledon2day hashtag.
Suddenly the reason for the unnecessary use of text-speak in a genuine BBC programme title became clear. Apparently actual English words are no longer required when basing the name of a show entirely around a social media hashtag. Sooner or later programmes won’t even have proper names anymore and we’ll all be watching #MOTD or #GBBO forgetting what they actually stood for in the first place.
At the risk of sounding like an old person complaining about the youth of today, it’s no wonder that so many kids struggle with writing coherently when they’ve been born and raised in the digital age. With everything being so fast-moving and number of characters at a premium, why should they pay attention to whether what they post online is grammatically correct or not? Why write ‘I know’ when inexplicably ‘a no’ apparently says the same thing? (Hint – it doesn’t).
As someone who studied Linguistics at university, I appreciate how language naturally evolves over time, but I can’t help but feel that the more we dumb things down on purpose, the more we lose the ability to use English properly. But then I always run out of characters in a Tweet because I am loath to abbreviate anything. Maybe I’m the one doing it wrong. I’m still going to call it ‘Today at Wimbledon’ though.