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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chp 125. Disemvowel

Among hundreds of new words and phrases recently added to the updated version of Collins English Dictionary, is the word “disemvowel”. It is something like a dark humor spoof, considering it’s origin from the word “disembowel” meaning “to remove the internal organs (intestine, stomach etc)”.

Yup, you guessed it. “Disemvowel” means to remove the vowels from a word, especially in sms, emails and internet chat sessions, in order to abbreviate the particular word.

Accorded to my limited perceptive observation, “disemvowelment” (which can become an addictive habit if unchecked) occurs mainly due to 6 reasons:

1. Cost cutting
2. Time saving
3. Phone model
4. Redefining “coolness”
5. Mister and Miss Busy
6. Sheer laziness

Cost cutting.

The cell phone boom of year 2K in the Indian market took place during my 2nd year Engineering College (Coimbatore). Everybody suddenly had one. 3 rupees/min incoming call rate in 1st year of College providentially reduced to almost 0 rupee/min outgoing call rate, thanks to fierce competition. Included in such schemes were “free sms” options1 [see footnotes]. And coming from such a “free sms” culture, we never had the need to use short cuts in our sms, because after all, it didn’t matter if our sms crossed the one sms limit or not.

Time saving.

Disemvowelers justify their action by bringing up the time factor. Guys like me and
Paul Johny (of the “more than 500 sms/day” fame) would disagree. We even conducted our own little experiment back in College. Give us a good phone with T9 option and we can assure you we will type entire sentences with coherent words quicker than disemvowlers.

Phone model.

It’s true, when it comes to technology, we must know where to draw the line. Outdated technology (old handset models with keys as hard as pebbles) and some of the latest technology (many of my friends sport PDAs now) will only hamper the desire to type proper words. Writing entire sentences in such phones feels extremely tiresome and the user has no other option but to resort to disemvoweling.

Redefining “coolness”.

“Lts B Frnds”, “Whr u frm”, “Hv V mt b4” are just some of the chat lingo one can find at various chat sessions. And sometimes, people consider it “cool” to speak like that to such an extent that a person with proper formality asking “where are you from, can we be friends?” is actually laughed and mocked at. In this process, words are replaced and soon become the actual word itself. For example, the Mizo word for monkey “zawnga” unofficially became “zonga”, which later transformed into “xonga”. Who knows what the next transformation would be? “Amos-a”?

Mister and Miss “always busy”.

When one is in the middle of an important work, or even a movie, the person usually resorts to typing the shortest sms reply possible. That’s understandable. But don’t you just hate it when somebody, who has all the time in the World, sends you a reply with just a “K” to your every sms? Hence come my last category of disemvowlers. I call it the “lazy texters”. I also call it the “Thomas Joy Syndrome”.

The Thomas Joy Syndrome.

Also known as the “K” Syndrome, people suffering from this disease tend to reply to every sms they receive with just a “K”. Aptly named after Thomas Joy, one of my closest friends (classmate and roommate right from 7th std School till College graduation) he is an epitome of sheer laziness when it comes to sms. In fact rumor has it that the “K” he writes is actually saved as a template on his handset so that he doesn’t have to waste tremendous energy typing that single letter.

So, there you go. The disemvowelers of our era.

Why do some of us disapprove of such a habit? Because we cannot hide from the fact that we Indians are pathetic when it comes to English. Forget vocabulary, many of us still make clumsy grammatical mistakes when we speak or write English. I can assure you there will be at least 20 such mistakes in all my posts, and if it was not for “auto word correction” the number of “casualties” would definitely increase. And in the midst of us struggling with the universal lingua franca, to develop the practice of disemvoweling is to sign the death warrant of English.

Two other reasons why I don’t approve of disemvoweling especially when it comes to sms:
1. It feels like a sign of disrespect or that you’re not considered important enough in the other person’s life.
2. You may understand what you are typing, because after all, it is you who is typing. But the person who receives your sms is having a hard time trying to put two and two together. Keep that in mind.

Any English teacher will tell you the kids of today are actually using words such as “thru”, “wanna”, “bcoz”, “brb” and “lol” in their English essays. Couple that with a bunch of erroneous sentences marred by grammatical and spelling mistakes and you have the perfect ingredient for disaster. Added to all that is the influence of hip-hop with its own jargon that really makes today’s kid clueless when it comes to naming the animal that barks: Is it a dog or a dawg or a dogg?

I sggst v shld gt bk 2 r Wrn & Mrtn!

Footnotes:

1 Free sms: I consider myself to be a part of the “old skool” of “free sms” generation. Even though some service providers still offer free sms schemes today, one can easily observe the difference between the “old skool” genX and the newbies. A newbie with “free sms” may still disemvowel while typing his/her sms because at a certain point of time, he/she didn’t use such a scheme, but us old-timers started directly with free sms, hence had no reason to cut short our length. Coimbatore (BPL and Aircel) directly kick started with free sms to gain a pie of the market share of the large College student population back in 2000-01, while most of the other places in India didn’t have such a scheme.


7 comments:

myself said...

u know my feelings about the whole sms thing,darlin :P...so no comments.

kima-the-other said...

its not surprising that chat forums and sms-s have spawned the many neologisms that render me rather square and 'uncoolness redefined'...'disemvowel' that was interesting and thanks. Its also interesting that the english dictionaries keep updating their vocab (hinglish contributing much to it) whereas for French, words run through stringent collegial evaluations and rarely make it as accepted francaise vocab. Did the French get it right all along? Should a dog or a dawg/dogg bark..i hear you man although there seems no end to the politics of words as signified or the signifier of them and Wren&Martin, personally, should be archived. Interestingly, i know people who could sms on the blind...could you do that too? Thanks for the interesting posts...what else is on in Mumbai besides the hardware steals you've been striking?

illusionaire said...

@ myself: I know :-) Kinda... an eye-opener aye? :-P

@ kima-the-other:

So I guess your name "Kima-the-other" is actually going to be permanent? :) Some of my Mizo friends in the blog community are actually starting to refer to you as "kima-the-other"! :)

Thanx for the comment bro. Interesting comment. In my opinion, I think what you mentioned about the French hold much ground to ponder upon. I know in a fast moving (progressing) civilization, one must be flexible and open to change, but when it comes to language, can it be said that we are killing the language at it's very roots when we keep adding new words and modifications into our vocabulary? If this was going to be the case, why have the definition "slang" in the first place? Because after all, a "slang" becomes a proper word anyway right?

And yes, by blind, if you mean smsing without looking at the screen, yes, I can do it. It takes months of continous smsing, but one will get used to it eventually. It's like playing Mortal Kombat or typing without looking at the keyboard. All you need is practice :)

Apart from all that, nothing much in Mumbai, except my sister is treating me to all the latest blockbusters like Shrek, Oceans and Pirates. I think I came down to Mumbai at the perfect time. Now I dont have to watch it in Delhi when I go back, hence save some cash in that department :))

philo said...

That way you put it, being in Mumbai with doting elders could be the best R&R imaginable. To pick up your suggestion, im myself alittle tired of typing in 12 alphabets with two hyphens whenever i signed off. what started as mere curiosity has continued with all your interesting posts and im considering handing my nick the fate of the proverbial 'curious cat'. Taking my cue from the Pheonix, i emerge as Philo (what an anti- climax!!).

illusionaire said...

Lolz! Welcome once again Philo :-) But in my honest opinion, Philo sounds like... you know... paedo.. something like that *GRIN*

philo said...

Paedo...haha..u never know. Just to avoid any unwanted solicitations and for the record, I picked it up from the 1century Jewish philosopher whose ouevre, though not being an author of any canonical books of the bible, throws much light on the the Bible. Just realised im aspiring to maintain that same dynamic on the various blogspots.

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