October 1, 2012

dialects of modernity - guest post

Today, I welcome Gabriel Fitzpatrick to the blog as part of his blog tour for his new book Rmnce. Details after the post!

Dialects of Modernity

I have been on both sides of the prescriptionist/descriptionist divide over the years. On the one hand, its undeniably maddening to see things that were patently wrong when you learned the language embraced as the new normal. That being said, in my experience changes to the language tend to be for the better, at least insofar as better is defined as more usable, convenient, and relevant.

The extreme of this, of course, lies in full-fledged dialects. Perhaps 15 years ago America saw a brief push to have Ebonics declared a legal dialect, with the potential for school curriculum to be altered commensurately to both teach it and teach in it. This movement was, as one might imagine, roundly defeated, but it brought up the issue of whether dialects can be considered valid evolutions of the language. Certainly Ebonics has a number of expressions which serve purposes traditional English needs served; this in itself gives validity to the existence and perpetuation of it, no matter what opinion one may have of its general appeal.

By the same token, text speak, the other principle American dialect of our time, also adds to the English language, albeit in a very different way. By taking words and sentences and hyper-simplifying them, condensing them into an utterly optimized form, it sacrifies the structural beauty, and a degree of the expressiveness, in favor of efficiency. The irony, of course, is that the very people for whom efficiency is a nearly overriding concern are those who dismiss text speak as the domain of children and imbeciles.

In evaluating a dialect’s usefulness and hence broad value, one must ask oneself if it adds to the language as it stands, and in most cases dialects which do not simply die out. Any which has stood the test of time must be looked at closely in terms of applicability. Rmnce demonstrates that art and meaning can be carried by this strange new configuration; beyond that threshold nothing more ought be required.


Gabriel’s new book, Rmnce is now available at Amazon and Smashwords.

The Rmnce series is a love story told in 4 parts. It follows a couple from the first drunkenly passionate days of their college romance all the way through a life together, often tumultuous, always overwhelming, and overridingly disquieting as only true love can be.

Rmnce is not, however, your traditional love story. Or perhaps more accurately, it does not appear to be your traditional love story. It is written entirely through the communications of the couple. Text messages, emails, and even a few old-fashioned letters make up the entirety of a story, what one early reader termed "A story not so much written as formed organically in the negative space."

It is, in short, a commentary on love in the digital age, a tribute to the great love affairs of the digital generation, romance not lost in the sea of text-speak and instant gratification, but merely obscured from the prying eyes of those too far removed from its cultural roots.

No comments:

Post a Comment