Words by Lori Dumaligan
Is it just me or are our posts on social media becoming more and more grammatically incorrect?
On one hand, there are those comments posted on videos where they apologize for their English and there are posts on Twitter and Tumblr with language turned into “art” to become more aesthetic. Then, there are also trolls who are notorious for their horrible grammar but still manage to strike a hate thread or a defensive fandom attack.
It seems like we are following the trend of not adding commas, apostrophes, or periods to express frantic or excited emotions. But could this be NOT just because we want to make our posts more look more “aesthetic” but because grammar is becoming “MODERNIZED” by millennials and Generation Z?
Modern design in art and architecture refers to the death of ornamentation. Overdecorating has become a crime in modernism. So, perhaps pop culture is evolving that way and we can say the same for grammar. If in design trends, we like geometric clean lines and minimalist Japanese houses, minimalism could be seeping into the language we use in social media as well.
Here are a few examples of how we have become grammar minimalists.
We’ve all seen “Asdfghjkl” before especially on our Qwerty keyboards. We see it before sentences, after sentences, and in the middle of sentences to describe feelings that just cannot be explained or expressed by actual words. It is commonly used by fandoms and especially used for frantic emotions.
IT’S BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY!!! ASDFGHJKL- pic.twitter.com/iPLUEVMhrf
— jaimee 🌱 nct fanacc (@_haymee_) April 29, 2019
It has become a new interjection appropriate for those moments of incoherence. This stream of letters popularized by fangirl speak is slowly becoming normal in our way of expressing ourselves online. It is usually coupled with repeated letters for exaggeration. For example,
“GURRRRRRLLLLLLLLLL ASDFGHJKL I just met Troye Sivan!!!”
But there are so many words out there. Let’s not forget about them and let’s use them too!
Aside from interjections, punctuation is also changing. There are also so many posts that overuse them or misuse them as commas or colons. Honestly, I still don’t know how to use them properly.
I can’t: stop using semicolons: when I type: I hate myself
— Citlali Nunez (@citlalinunez1) May 2, 2019
But people have given them deeper meanings as well. Have you seen pictures of semicolon tattoos? They represent mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention. So, semicolons can be used for artistic and stylistic purposes too.
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) January 27, 2015
But do we actually need them? They’ve evolved into this punctuation that we don’t really know how to use properly and can be used for anything, especially on Twitter. If used appropriately though, they can widen our way of expressing our FEELS! I’m definitely going to learn how to use them now.
3. Apostrophes no longer exist
Another punctuation mark that’s being neglected is apostrophes. We live in a time of record-breaking speeds of typing because we are so exposed to the digital that we don’t even bother anymore.
I dont use apostrophes anymore. #ISpendSoMuchTimeOnTwitter
— 🌺Trudy B🌺 (@trudytalk) May 2, 2019
From our group chats to Facebook comments, you’ll see these: “Im sad,” “Im hungry,” or “Im tired.” Sometimes we even confuse them with quotation marks.
Soon every letter will just be apostrophes.
— sixpence. (@creamsties) May 1, 2019
Does this mean apostrophes are unnecessary? We still get to say the same thing and it doesn’t change the meaning, right? They are important in showing ownership over something like your name when you say, “My name’s Lori.” They can be used for good even though we might feel that nobody cares to check our grammar anyways. So, let’s not allow apostrophes to die. This may be the time of minimalism and only keeping the things that spark joy but they can help us make our language clearer and more precise!
2. Lack of periods But So many Ellipses…
Periods can also be added into the list of the most neglected punctuation marks. It’s like reading a post without any stops. But it’s a given that we forget them sometimes. But there are just those posts intentionally without them. Why? It could be because we all understand sentences and we fill in the periods with our eyes. Or do we just do this when speed typing all our feels on rant mode?
On texts or on private messages though, do you ever just avoid periods because you don’t want to sound too formal or too cold? It might even seem like a person is angry at you when they a period at the end of every sentence. So, some people go without them to be more casual.
But they are also used as a stylistic device especially on a lot of poetry or “casual posting.” I am also super guilty of doing this, especially I was thirteen and trying what I thought was cool and “modern” poetry that flows. Interestingly though, we seem to be taking out periods but we overuse ellipses.
we stan a man who uses 3 ellipses not 4 pic.twitter.com/uH3c1q4TIS
— LORENZO GOMEZ (fan account) (@PASTELORENZ) May 1, 2019
We use them to show pauses, when we are trying to make a point, or when we want to show emotions like nervousness. They’ve become filler words like asdfghjkl. But let’s remember that periods allow pauses and contain sentences. Let’s not forget about them in our posts!
1. Lack of capitalization
Finally, if this isn’t the most common omitted part of a sentence, then I don’t know what is. I first encountered this on Wattpad, a story sharing website, and on John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” where the protagonist is a rebel against everything including grammar rules.
My 12-year-old self once thought that it was so cool and it looked really good especially on contemporary poetry. I started copying it too and it made me feel like it was SO revolutionary to go against the norms of English grammar. I laugh and cringe every time I look back on these. This is proof of how influential social media is on naive minds like mine.
Here’s an example of sentences starting with no capitals.
you know what’s the best part of all this?? we didn’t vote for this award the critics are finally recognizing them for their music and not just because of their fandom this is THEIR award for THEIR music and they deserve it
— ro (@pjmhobi) May 2, 2019
To be fair, the capitalization is intentional and is meant to emphasize BTS. But only using lowercase letters might not be a big deal to you because doesn’t everyone write like this on Twitter? You already get a limited amount of characters so, why bother with capitalization? The fact that this is becoming the norm means that social media is influencing the way we use grammar.
But in some ways like in poet Rupi Kaur’s Instapoetry, it works. It gives her a distinct artistic style and holds a deeper meaning for her. It refers to how her mother tongue, gurmukhi script, has no uppercase or lowercase letters. So, she uses it as a visual representation of what she wants to see in the world: equality. Once again, these grammar changes can be used for stylistic reasons.
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Also, lowercase letters just look nice, especially in typewriter font.
But then, there are posts also where it’s JUST ALL CAPS. It’s that one friend in your group chat or in the comments section who SOUNDS LIKE SHE’S SCREAMING AT YOU ALL THE TIME!
What do you think? Are you into this trend or does it just mean we’re lazy since auto-capitalization is off?
By now, you might be seeing a pattern with the way we use language on social media. It’s usually for an aesthetic or an emotional effect which simple words can never capture. And it is also about stripping out the unnecessary bits like punctuation when you want to express an emotion as fast as possible. But this has also given rise to grammar Nazis, a group of people whose personal mission is to remind us all about our spellings and lack of subject-verb agreement. They’re the ones who love to remind you that your spelling is wrong.
But the internet is not only composed of English speakers. Surely, we should just cut everyone some slack? For Filipinos, how does this relate to us? English is widely used in the country. Through the internet, we have access to learn grammar with varied learning tools from apps to games. So, maybe there’s no excuse for us not to learn grammar? Not everyone has the same opportunities though so, we just need to be more understanding and compassionate with each other. Let’s help each other out nicely!
So, maybe grammar is changing and new words like stan are becoming the norm. But let’s remember that grammar rules existed once because: capitalization is for distinction. Periods are here for us to know when to stop and breathe. Semicolons bring together a string of sentences. Apostrophes make the distinction that two words are joined together. And we have words that we can use words to express our feelings not just a stream of letters.
But at the root of it all, what may be influencing our grammar is the desire to get to the heart of the message and find new ways to artistically express our FEELS.
How many of these are you guilty of? Do you think that grammar is an outdated concept or it’s still necessary?