Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

simply SMS


Some years ago, I wondered where SMS lingo was taking us. My piece once published in Deccan Herald still has relevance:

Carrying a cell-phone can be thought-provoking, especially when one gets those cryptic SMS messages. When folks type ‘pls snd txt msg’ in SMS lingo instead of ‘please send text message’, I see not the death of language, but new possibilities. I'm talking about change and evolution, not advocating SMS-isms per se. As I see it, some SMS-isms might very well seep into the language if SMS lasts that long. Chances also are, something entirely new may take the place of cell-phone communication and kill off SMS.

SMS lingo has evolved as the result of a genuine need in much the same way as slang. Many tend to look down upon such 'pedestrian' innovations which challenge the conventional boundaries of 'pure'
language. But we mustn't forget that the language we consider convention and
time-honoured and hence pure today, is itself the result of inventive usage
gaining popularity and ultimate acceptance.

 Language, not just English but any language, is a living, growing entity.
Think of all the Indian languages that evolved from the original 'pure'
Sanskrit. Compare modern Kannada usage with Hale Kannnada, or even the more
historically recent works of Bankim Chandra or Vidyasagar with the current
trends in Bangla writing. Compare the English of 'Beowulf' with Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales, and compare Chaucer with Shakespeare. Then compare them with James Joyce and compare Joyce or Pound or Yeats
with (oh horror of horrors), SMS lingo.

Since languages are dynamic entities growing and changing with time and usage,
we can expect further change. Yes, even perhaps the inclusion of some SMS-isms in
due course. It would take time, but it would happen. Right now, SMS lingo offers interesting possibilities. They can, when
judiciously used, spice everyday communication with humour or bring alive a fictional character who uses such language.

An avalanche of innovations may be confusing and destructive. But a slow,
gradual process of evolving popular usage is a must for the growth and
development of any language. Imagine what would happen if humans adamantly
refused to accept change? We might still be grunting and groaning like the
Neanderthals because that was the original, 'pure' way of communicating.

Then again, perhaps we are truly reverting to the original way of communicating. Don’t SMS-isms suspiciously resemble the monosyllabic grunts of our cavemen ancestors?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

face value

We live in an unjust world where those who successfully present a certain image are given more prominence and respect. In an age of tapering attention spans, snap judgements are made and individuals labelled and slotted depending upon the brands they sport. Some of us may like to believe that we are valued for our inner qualities. But clothing as a means of self-expression is very much here to stay.

The way we dress helps others form an instant image of who we are, offering insights into our lifestyle and attitudes. Which brings up that age-old question; do clothes make the man or woman? Of course they don’t! Looks can lie and superficial clothing cannot change the essential character of a person. Why then does up-to-the-nanosecond fashion dominate our time, thought, newsprint and airwaves?
My detailed and somewhat tongue-in-cheek take can be read in Sunday Herald