A New System?

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"The future of books is a large subject and perhaps this is not a suitable place to pursue it. We hear every day that the book is dead and that even the dimmest child can find 'anything' on the internet." (Truss 178)

At the end of last summer, while I was gathering up all my supplies for school, I bought a dictionary and a thesaurus. They have remained unused and uopen on one of my shelves in my room for the entire year. Every time I need to look up a word, I refer to the internet. I can't even remember the last time I opened an encyclopedia. Almost all of the research I complete is online.

Even though I still research mostly online, most of the sources I use I have to print out. I can't read long pages of information from the screen. I still like having a hard copy to read, highlight, and make notes on. Even though through the internet I am able to find much more information in a much shorter period of time, I still believe the printed word is the best final form of a source to use.

Although I agree that the internet, emails, and text messages have done and will continue to damage our language system (especially punctuation), I think it's just another change that is adapting our language to our environments. For example, Truss mentions the Egyptians hieroglyphics and how they faded out as being the common form of written language. I'm sure the Egyptians felt the same way we do know when this change happened. We're worried that our punctuation and grammar system is falling apart. Maybe it is, but it may not be for the worst. It could only be leading up to a new system we may have someday due to our technology. Language changed when the printing press was invented, now its changing again because of new technology. Despite this possibility, I still hate to see punctuation and grammar being abused simply because people are so used to shortcuts from emails and text messages. 

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4 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

Katie, Truss seems to think that books are in greater peril than I do. I agree that in many cases, such as your example with the dictionaries and thesaurus, that people (including me) opt to use the Internet, because it is faster. But I, like you, also usually print out my research from the Internet so I can write comments and organize my thoughts. People still read books, for almost every class we still have textbooks we have to buy. Books are still very much alive, and as Truss pointed out herself, books have survived the invention of television, and they are likely to survive the invention of many other things. I do not think that books are in any way an endangered species. Nor do I think the English language is. It may be threatened by change, but not extermination.

Ally Hall said:

I agree with Greta, as well as you Katie. Books may not be in such danger as Truss seems to think, but maybe dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias should watch out. The internet is a far easier way to get that information than having to page through hundreds of pages (as well as not having to identify the correct volume in a multi-volume encyclopedia) just to find the entry you're looking for. I'm like you as well, though, I much prefer to have a hard copy near me to mark up so I can write my own ideas and response to what I'm reading. So maybe some books are in danger, but surely, not all.

Kaitlin Monier said:

I understand what you mean. I have had a Spanish---> English dictionary for the past several years to use for my high school classes and Spanish class I took last semester. When I came across words that I did not understand, I would go straight to the internet for a translator rather than looking them up in my dictionary.

Erica Gearhart said:

Katie, these are really great points about technology changing our language systems and our modes of publication. I still think that books are so important to society. I remember when I was in elementary school very few people liked to read for fun, but then the Harry Potter book and Goosebumps books came along, and everyone was reading again. I know what you mean about using books less though. Sometimes it is much more convenient to look up a word online. However, I haven't found an online thesaurus that I like as much as the printed one that I have, so I still resort to books on a regular basis. There is something so much more personal and refreshing about reading a printed book rather than one that shows up on a screen with millions of other sites.

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Erica Gearhart on A New System?: Katie, these are really great
Kaitlin Monier on A New System?: I understand what you mean. I
Ally Hall on A New System?: I agree with Greta, as well as
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