Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2brnt2b is the question!

It is when you need to concentrate the most does your mind play all the tricks up it's sleeve and more often than not, the mind emerges the winner. Most of my writing is an artifact of such moments, but I'll let that be since that is definitely not the theme of my write-up today. I have always advocated that 'annoyance' is a perfect example of an intangible creation of our own mind, something that you can completely avoid. And yet, I infallibly fall for it every single time. But enough said about the mind, which I know is a product of my own contradictions. The anguished linguaphile in me had to seek solace by writing his agony targeted towards everyone and none in particular. It would be nothing short of being perfectly idiotic to fight for a lost cause, especially when the entire world is against you. But I'll stand up now and dish out a piece of my mind  to the world  in which mutilation of languages is considered fashionable.

Today, I was woken up by the muddled hooting of my phone on receiving a text message which said "tst" which was followed by another which said "txt d msg". And there it was - annoyance on two counts. The first being the most obvious - someone apparently chose me as the lucky person for his random testing of the new features of his/her phone. To explain this in terms of the butterfly effect, a few days ago the 'half-bitten fruit' folks released a new version of their iOS (to be pronounced ayyos), the impact which I had to bear now with some random person's experimental text messages. Following the two minute silence spent ruminating over my ill-luck was a half-an-hour nostalgia session recounting the undergrad days when free text messaging had been in vogue. Back then, it was the bread-and-butter communication strategy for students for a variety of recreational* purposes. The second reason for my annoyance was the content of the message - not the semantics but its syntax. The blatant non-availability of vowels in the message was just the icing that the cake needed.

That brings me to my chosen theme of the day - spelling. I can possibly understand the intent of robbing the words off its heart, if you were sending a Morse coded message hundred years ago when every alphabet communicated (or perhaps spoken too) was costing you money. Or if you were effecting a will endowing your million rupee property to an orphanage right before your very last breath^. Or if you were preparing** for an examination. But even the gentleman in me just cannot accept an email missing the vowels in a professional setting like requesting an appointment or writing to someone whom you do not know personally.

Very recently, an update appeared on my Facebook notifications; a comment that read thus "gr8,u 2 cum... pls du sumthn awsum dis wknd 4 dat." How in the sweet heaven do you guys even manage to do that! Every single word in there was perfectly misspelt! It has become fashionable to spell 'date' as 'd8' and 'time' as 'tym'. "To be or not to be" becomes "2 b r nt 2 b", "awesome" becomes "ossum" and "right" becomes "rite". And then there is "Choooo chweet" that pops up in all diabetic conversations between couples. And this list is endless. To misspell a word has sadly become a measure of cuteness in writing. If you end up spelling "do" as "du", I really think you should rather spend more time in middle school than on social networking. 

While there is one faction who splendidly mutilate the spelling by truncation, there is the other group who believe in perpetual repetition of an alphabet as a perfect equivalent for punctuation. So apparently, the length of grunting encoded using 'r'  in a "grrrrrrrrr" or the depth of disappointment in a "booooooooo" is a perfectly acceptable measure of your emotion. To say 'cooooool' is super cool and 'beautifullllllll' becomes extra-beautiful. On a similar note, the level of excitement in a "Superrrrrrr" or the measure of awe in a "Woooooooooow" is totally justified too. Sometimes, the length of repetition is so appalling that I often suspect their keyboard could possibly be the miscreant.

To all those who take pride in writing such sentences - Yes, I do appreciate your exceptional ability to comprehend sentences encrypted using phonetics and without vowels. But words are spelled in a language in a certain way for a reason - please let them be.

End of rant.

* includes SOS calls and soul-searching
** if you know what that means
^ if you don't understand this, you really need to watch more Hindi/Tamizh/Telugu movies. Don't look for Kannada, apparently even Google is not able to find any such thing called kannada movie.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

dmr - a true titan

Last week-end, one of the great minds of our time, a true Titan of Computer Science, someone whom I respect from the bottom of my heart for his contributions to the world, departed this physical world. He revolutionized the world of computers - a true pioneer, a superlative mind and a great person. He invented the language that formed the fundamentals of the computers that we so freely use today. He laid the foundation for an operating system that fuels the world we live in. It is on his giant shoulders that millions ride on today and will do so for ever. He won the Turing award and the Hamming medal, something that can only be dreamt by most people. Being the intellectual giant he was, he kept contributing to this world, until his very last days.

I hate making comparisons, but it pains to see such a great person like dmr departing the world unnoticed while that of an corporate innovator gets flashed in the headlines and is being mourned by millions. By what standards is a Turing award winner lesser than the corporate wizard? But then, this is how the machinery of the world works. I guess, it doesn't matter anymore. That said, I do hope there would be a few who will recognize the magnitude of his contribution to the world. I do. 

You are one of the few people whom I shall repent not having known personally despite being almost in the same building.  Your emails signed with the famous dmr will no more reach us. You will be missed, Sir. The world will most definitely miss Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie.