is nothing sacred? 11.14.2005, 5:59 AM
posted by kim white
A few weeks ago, Ben posted about The Bible Society of Australia's new "transl8tion" of the Bible into SMS--a shorthand system used primarily for sending text messages through mobile phones. Interesting to note that an organization like the Australian Bible Society, which believes the text of the Bible to be the very word of God, does not seem have a problem with the fact that the SMS version changes the voice of god from that of a wizened poet to that of a text-messaging teenager. Here's an example:
4 god so luvd da world
I'm all for reading on cellphones and other portable devices, and I understand using a shorthand language for keying in messages, but why does the published book need to look like an electronic stenographer's notepad? I realize that the form of the electronic "page" is changing the way we write, but I'll be more than a little disappointed if this is the direction we are going--toward a cutesy-looking shorthand that compromises the integrity of the text for the sake of expediency. The aesthetic beauty of words is no small thing. Great writers understand this. They know how to choose words that weave visual and aural subtext into their work. Consider, for a moment, whether those subtleties translate into SMS. Imagine a text messagable Gettysburg address: 4 scor & 7 yr.z ago... Or a shrunk-to-fit Dickens: it wz d best of tImz, it wz d worst of tImz.
Are you with me when I say that they jst dun hav d powR of d orignL txt.
Tim Bulkeley on November 14, 2005 3:31 PM:
Actually no, I disagree, the original text (at least of the New Testament - from which your examples come) was written in language forms more like TXT than literary English! Koine Greek they call it, the language of the streets and everyday, not the language of literature! See my post TXT: Bible as koine...
kim white on November 15, 2005 7:04 AM:
but SMS isn't really a language of the streets. It's not a language at all. It is a shorthand system for writing English rapidly. Similar to the shorthand used before recording devices were invented. These notes were always transcribed back into plain English, never published as shorthand. I guess my beef has something to do with privileging speed over quality (or at least what I perceive as quality). That said, it's also really interesting that SMS, like ancient Hebrew, leaves out vowels. So maybe, in some respects, we are coming full circle.
Michael Rueger on November 16, 2005 5:45 PM:
SMS as shorthand is still somewhat readable. Borrowing from g33k language it might get even worse:
Kim white on November 16, 2005 9:56 PM:
wow, that looks like code. If you had quoted a less famous line, I would never have been able to read it. Which is, perhaps the point of code, hmm interesting, I hardly ever think of language as a code and code as a way of keeping the uninitiated out.
Lisa lynch on November 21, 2005 11:55 AM:
This via Yahoo news on Nov. 17th:
Dot mobile, a British mobile-phone service aimed at students, says it plans to condense classic works of literature into SMS text messages. The company claims the service will be a valuable resource for studying for exams.