Wayne's Weekly Reader

by Wayne Klick

November 18, 1998

"It slows down
communication if
everybody is stopping
and thinking about what
they write. It's chilling. I
don't like it."

                   @Home CEO Tom Jermoluk, on the
                   evils of actually putting thought into
                   emails one writes, The New York
                   Times, 11 November 1998 (courtesy Ditherati)

I'm always marveling at the effects email is having on our written language.

It would be easy to complain about how every word now seems to have an infinite number of spellings, punctuation is optional, not to mention capitalization, and how we now need to learn an adjunct language of glyphs :-)

But I don't get depressed about how the convenience and immediacy of email seems to be destroying the English language.  As in most other arenas, I merely observe and become amused.  There's nothing anyone can do about it, so you might as well have a few laughs and go with the flow.  Evolution is natural and unstoppable.  Email is kind of like body language, since few put any second thoughts (and many no first ones) into their communications.  Since the writers aren't thinking about what they are writing, sometimes you can see the real meaning in their letters.  Sometimes.  Usually you're just trying to figure out the surface meaning.  Myself, I reread the emails I write, correct any spellings and grammar, edit for style, and do my part to preserve The King's English for future generations.

Whenever I see a typo on a billboard (yes I do) or read a marketing letter that has a "there" where there should be a "they're" (an increasingly common error) I figure the author and proofreader must be spending too much time in AOL chatrooms.  And I accept that "there" will eventually replace "they're" in our language.  "Gonna" is becoming an accepted contraction for "going to", and this was taking place before the mass advent of the internet and email.  Why?  Because "gonna" is used by virtually everyone.  If you're gonna speak it, eventually you're gonna write it.  This is the natural evolution of language and they're is nothing wrong with it.

Well, that subject didn't go very far.

I've never written a weekly column before.  It's fun, but sometimes you're scrounging for a topic at the last minute.  I had thought that perhaps two consecutive columns about football, specifically K-State football, might stretch the interest quotient among the readers here.  But this is what I've been thinking about the most, so deal with it.

Last week I didn't talk much about the importance of KSU's game with Nebraska this past Saturday.  If you have any taste for sports in general, you're probably sick of hearing about that game, and you quit reading a couple of sentences ago.  But then again, maybe you didn't seek out every word that there is about it on the 'net, like I did.

Sure that game was important to K-State.  They hadn't beaten NU for 29 years.  They had never been undefeated after 10 games.  They were among the top three teams in pursuit of the mythical national championship of college football.  They were on national television with Keith "Whoa Nellie" Jackson calling the game.  Even from a distance here in New Mexico, I could feel a level of excitement there that I know the state has never before experienced.

K-State won.  They were supposed to.  They had an obviously better team. 

But nobody (outside of Kansas) really thought they would, Lee Corso and Beano Cook notwithstanding.

This is why I can't get enough of it, and don't feel a bit bad about the play illustrated at right (for those one or two of you who saw the game).

Having been a fan of KSU sports and professional teams from Kansas City since birth, I've always been grossly aware of how the bicoastal media views the area and its teams.  They think that there's just no way those hicks out in Kansas could ever win a big game.  The condescending tone of the network pundits has been most grating over the years.  My but it's fun to watch them squirm.  This time some of them even apologized.

If K-State goes on the national championship game, you'll likely read about it here.  This one arena where I don't merely observe and become amused.

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