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Verbal B.O.

The earliest sources of this malady can be traced back to texting (SMSing) and chat forums. What were once oddities and spelling quirks have now turned into a cancerous phenomenon. Like an illness with a predilection for younger age groups, this terrible symptom of abbreviating words and mangling sentences is seen frequently in my generation and in extreme majority in teens born in the 90s. My cousins and their friends now throng on orkut/facebook, rambling about themselves and others using this inane form of communication. When I browse such profiles and emails I am left with a throbbing headache and annoyance.

It's not cool. It's not a fad. It's a disease.

Have I tried to bring about change? Yes, at an individual level I have frequently expressed my concern for poor spellings. In turn I have received a spectrum of reactions ranging from indifference, annoyance to strong retorts. Hence I found a curious similarity to another affliction.

So here's my explanation to the incorrigible mis-spellers for why their habit is quite similar to having Body Odour/Bad Breath.

1. You end up making a terrible first impression.

A mail from my junior batch:
Dear XYZ Alumni
we r creatin a platform fr d interaction of d XYZ alumni.Thru it we will b networked and associated wit each othr,we'll b tlkin bout d events, contributions, alumni meet issues etc

How can anyone respect an organization not having the volition to type out their words in full? What would have seemed to the sender as an effective, concise message is at a level full of gibberish. What a waste of effort!

2. Though others are often bothered by it, you are seldom aware of the problem.

Maybe you feel it is under your control, that you can direct yourself to alter it when necessary. But it doesn't work that way. Electronic communication by its inherent nature is impersonal. Misinterpretation of intent and meaning often happens with tentatively structured messages. Do not impair it further by robbing it of precious vowels and crucial phonetics at your whim.

3. It bother others, but generally below the threshold for raising an issue.
4. When people point it out to you, you will express denial -
Abe chill yaar!

In a sane world, if a spelling mistake was singled out in anyone's communication, he or she would be embarrassed, flustered and probably get upset too. But thanks to an increasing chunk of poor spellers, whose communication is swarming with misspelt words, it has become a polarising issue - instead of accepting their error, people defensively strike out at you.

For the Alumni mail I quoted earlier, I had in a reply pointed out the tediousness of the mail. I got a defensive retort that I should be ashamed of my cynicism, along with a reasoning that 'it kinda saves time if u use abbreviations where u cn considering da amt f mails needed 2b sent each day!!!'

5. In extreme cases, you will take pride in it like it's an inseparable part of your personality.

me: you like to shorten four letter words to three ? why ?
preeti: aise hi meri marzi (Just like that, it's my choice)
:) i like doin dat

preeti: u cn follow others...m nt followin tem

6. People ideally shouldn't judge you on such quirks, but they can't help it.

Spelling words in full will never go out of fashion, or become a rarity. Whether it's your formal communication asking for advice on some matter; an informative conversation ; an informal mail to keep in touch - your SMS lingo will be an immediate turn off.

7. If you take good care of your diet and hygiene(read vocabulary and spellings), the problem will soon abate.

If you are indeed suffering from verbal B.O, let me assure you that it is curable. Firstly, stop mangling English and start typing full words from this moment onwards. You've learnt English formally for a majority of years in school and I am sure this brief departure hasn't scrambled your brain. From your google chat archives, search for phrases dis, dat, da, wot and flog yourself for every search result. That's your punishment for inflicting pain on others. Make a habit of consciously working on your written communication in the next few months. And of course, blogging is always an interesting proposition!

Amongst a tribe of malodorous monkeys, you wouldn't be singled out for this peculiarity. Maybe you are unwittingly aping your peer's behaviour, typin lik dis n dat. But soon from being an odd occurrence, it'll become a frequent condition and if left unchecked it'll morph into a massive case of Halitosis.

So do remember that we are not monkeys. We are humans who have thrived based on a credible form of communication. So respect your IQ; be proud of your cognitive capabilities for spelling correctly ; Take care of your health, and your B.O.

Best Wishes
Your friendly Verbal Doctor

Would you like to browse other articles from my blog? Read:
Your Marriage Un-vites
The Best of 2006
The Best of 2007

Related articles: A similar rant on nonsensical communication by Atanu Dey.


  1. Absolutely, I couldn't agree with you more.

  2. Right on the buttom mate. Well written to boot.

  3. Excellent!! Among everything else, I hate the use of '4' instead of 'for' and 'u' instead of 'you'.

  4. @Anonymous: Good to hear that.

    @Suhaib: Thanks! Spread the word. Curb this illness!

    @Aaren: Like a compilation of most annoying business jargons, maybe we should create a list of these usages..

  5. :)lukz lik u dont lik tem cool things [try as i might i couldn't dress-up the last 2 words :( ]
    And I protest against the pic used. Reeks of male chauvinism.

  6. Well said :-)

    I'm also pissed off by improper capitalization and punctuation and it looks like we're losing the battle here. In many of the CVs I receive, brilliant candidates screw up their chances of landing a job because of such english. It is only because we are a startup, I sometimes become lenient and give them another chance, because we are looking for exceptional engineers which are rare anyhow. But trust me, if I ever had a good choice of candidates to hire, such CVs would directly go to the trash-can.

  7. Agreed!!
    I make a conscious effort not to use short forms during blogging.

  8. Full Support to the cause mate!!

  9. @ Renu: It's chauvinism if you interpret it that way! It's just a nice picture found online that matched my requirements.

    @ Nilesh - It'll be a slow arduous process to recover the erstwhile glory of English. But unlike Ram Sene, I won't use violence and make people pee on their notebooks...

    @ Aditi - Glad to hear that.

    @ Rohan - Yes my dear flatmate...though my excellent English usage has screwed up our relations with the Landlord!


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