Ending a message with a period has come to “signify an abrupt or angry tone of voice” to Generation Z, some linguists claim, arguing that in the era of ubiquitous texting and instant messaging, full stops are no longer necessary to merely indicate the end of a sentence.
An idea’s conclusion is implied by the end of the message, they insist (because nobody communicates in more than one sentence at a time anymore, apparently – you just hit ‘send’ and start a new message). When full stops are used, they’re supposedly interpreted as “ominous” or emotionally charged by the hyper-sensitive young people reading the message.
The full stop’s use is being “revised in a really fundamental way,” Professor David Crystal, billed by the UK Telegraph as “one of the world’s leading language experts,”alleges. It’s no longer about ending a sentence but about an “emotion marker,” he says. This is even “backed up by science” – a 2015 Binghamton University study found college students perceive text messages ending in a full stop as being “less sincere” than those without one.
While it’s tempting to attribute this supposed aversion to definitive sentence endings to the oft-caricatured Generation Snowflake, those young adults demanding both literal and metaphorical safe spaces even as they are dragged kicking and screaming into the real world, the elevation of generational sensitivities over linguistic coherence is part of a more ominous trend.
The woke academics running the English Department at Rutgers University are staging a full frontal assault on grammar, somehow managing to implicate the linguistic rules that allow us to understand each other’s speech in colonialism. There’s a campaign in Seattle to ditch the notion of “teaching” altogether, led by an ethnic studies educator who argues her peers have no business instructing little Johnny that 2+2=4 because math has been used to “marginalize people of color.”The University of Washington issued a statement back in 2017 cautioning professors against expecting perfect spelling from their students, declaring“there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English.”
Even the most earnest social justice warrior would struggle to frame punctuation as racist, but it’s easy enough for the new stewards of academia to argue that young people shouldn’t be expected to use full stops, commas, and other punctuation marks correctly, any more than (in the eyes of Rutgers or UW) black students should be expected to have a working grasp of proper English grammar and spelling.
We’re still a few years out from Orwell’s Newspeak, which used an ever-dwindling vocabulary to control thought (although with dictionaries hastily redefining words from ‘racism’ to ‘woman’, it may be closer than we think), but the incoherent Babel that would result if every social group – racial, ethnic, age, gender, and so on – had its own rules of speaking and writing what is supposedly the same language is a very real threat. There are few quicker ways to atomize a population than preventing them from communicating, and with literacy rates declining across the UK and US alike, a future where the tightly-controlled emoji library becomes the lingua franca isn’t unrealistic.
Governments could reverse this process by putting money into literacy programs, but why bother when there are so many countries that need bombing? So woke predators step in, eager to mould the minds of the young into grotesque shapes in the name of ‘tolerance’ and eradicating ‘hate’.
When text messaging first emerged – followed quickly by text-speak – teachers bemoaned how the crude abbreviations inevitably found their way into school assignments. Now, under the dumbed-down regime of Woke Academia, the text-speakers are having the last laugh. Or should I say, the last LOL?
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