It Keeps Getting Shorter, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 8th April 2016

19 Apr

It Keeps Getting Shorter

SMS Courtesy Tagga

SMS Courtesy Tagga

Language has its own beauty and has been developing for over a thousand years, from the hieroglyaphics to the recent SMS or text messages we have evolved into. The main concern is however does communication still achieve its objective, which is to pass on the message?

Fast forward to this current era and our means of communication are endless, for example who would have thought that speaking to your family via a mobile phone and live video would ever be possible. Yet some still rely on the old ways, if not letters, then e-letters and continue to share millions of updates and stories. The latest is the very famous “WhatsApp” which allows a short message in writing, many photos and throw in a video or two even while a wedding is going on, so that those who didn’t make it are completely involved via this communication.

But what is the quality of this kind of communication. When the SMS, or short messaging service kicked in about 20 years ago for us to use from the mobile phones, it was exciting, naturally anything new is either interesting or fearful. Due to the high cost of making the call we all resorted to using the SMS service and since it was limited to a number of characters, we immediately starting creating “Twitter” type messages and telling the other person what we wanted. Thus, a long sentence or word started to shrink. Then came the famous Emoticons when the iPhone revolution changed the average Nokia phone into a smart phone technology. Currently we are now chatting and not sending messages, these are instant, short, creative, colorful, with stickers, emoticons, videos, photos and whatever else people write or communicate with.

To say that language has suffered completely is not fair, I would consider this an evolution in communication and language is again finding its own way. For example in the space type future, who knows how we will really communicate. Slang language has definitely taken over but even though the Collins Dictionary likes will argue that language is losing its autheniticity, think about this how you are now writing your messages says a lot about your personality. If English and Kiswahili are our National languages, if we are losing the grammar, so what, as long as the message is going to the other side. Remember this is an informal setting for communication, so for example how I would send a message to my best friend would be completely different from my parents or a polite reminder to my colleague at work. it really depends on who you are communicating with and your relationship with that person. There are some who would not tolerate a simple “hi” and prefer “hello Aunty”, but that’s what interesting about this current mode of messaging, it can be whatever you want. You can even send a hug or smile through the emoticons. It is all about expression and it is personal, it is bringing people together in a very unusual way or maybe creating divorces, fights and misunderstandings. But hey, don’t you have an issue even if you talked on the phone or better yet face to face. Have you ever been in a situation when someone has said something to you in person and you really haven’t understood what they are saying? Imagine if it were in writing and even if it was in the proper grammar, would it make any difference?

Language is fun, let it take us to new places. Yes it has deep roots in identity, for example a Gujarati speaker gives you an indication where he or she comes from, that way we can also tell which country you are from, however accent and pronunciation has more significance than the language. You could speak English from Kenya and have an American accent and someone can think you are from there and vice versa. In writing there is no accent and there is not much grammar difference from country to country except American English and UK English so how can you tell country? But only I believe Kenyans are famous for saying “Me I did this and that or We Us are going here” yes that is one of our style of speaking, hardly though used in writing.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Uncategorized


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One response to “It Keeps Getting Shorter, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 8th April 2016

  1. Jeremiah Wakaya

    June 7, 2016 at 16:40

    Good piece. The art of communicating is really one if not the most complicated of them all. How we really use it is a confirmation of our ability do great things that only human can.


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