Posted By Caulimovirus on July 19, 2008
“Important Notice Effective Today”
.: While cleaning my room I found another notice buried underneath a pile of papers. It seemed equally as urgent and likely took as long to compose as the other message. I can only assume the authorship is shared.
.: This is AOL chatroom level writing, folks. No, this is worse than that: this is the kind of text you find in a co-worker’s forwarded email. However, this style of writing appears to be approaching the norm in every day discourse, and it is our job as lexicographers to be descriptive and not prescriptive. So, let’s see what we as speakers of Internet English — or Inglish, if I may — should consider appropriate style.
.: The header at the top demonstrates remarkable restraint from the author by not being typed in all caps. Emphasis is spread evenly among four words instead of the usual two, and a friendly hue of blue is chosen in preference to more menacing colors. Combined, this is almost as if to say, “I want you to read me as soon as possible, but only when you have the time.”
.: The author then builds suspense in a particularly original manner. We as readers must wade carefully through three colons — our curiosity piqued by the mention of vandalism and ethnic cleansing (“recent damages of property and peoples”) — before we arrive at the consequences anticipated by the embossed seriousness of the header.
.: Next, note her unique style of emphasis. No longer are parentheses limited to parentheticals; instead, we can use them to underline the importance of key words in a sentence. Better yet, we can combine the use of parentheses with actually underlining the words. This way we’re certain our words won’t escape the reader’s attention. (Note: underlining the spaces between words is considered a waste of emphasis, as you are in effect emphasizing nothing.)
.: In Inglish, we have the freedom to experiment with different combinations: we can underline and place parentheses around one word, underline and place parentheses around several words, or simply underline several words without using parentheses. We can even use, as the author does here, all three variants within a single sentence:
Your children cannot be outside on property without (you) as a parent outside watching them. (not from inside)
.: Some may quibble with my claim that all three variants occur within a single sentence by citing the end parenthetical’s position at the right of the period. Those who quibble, however, are missing the point: a period no longer indicates the end of a sentence or a separation of ideas. In fact, in this new language of Inglish, periods are fast becoming obsolete and may even disappear within the next few years. Currently, their main usage is one of voluntary ornamentation.
.: Let us return now to the message itself. After being notified of the new rules enacted in response to damages incurred, we’re told of consequences sure to follow if we’re found violating said rules. Note how the author addresses a different audience. The method is curious first in the way qualifiers are employed and second in the way the author, after addressing a new set of people, completely ignores them. Thus we’re given the addressees (“Children found outside without parent:”) and their address (“”).
.: Finally, we’re left with a rather draconian conclusion: “Parents will be given a Written warning. On the 3rd warning , your lease will be terminated.” Note the lack of conditionals: all parents in the complex will be given written warnings. Moreover, once they acquire three warnings, you — the reader of this important notice — will have your lease terminated.
.: By now I hope you realize the importance of mastering new languages, however similar to your own they may appear. In an ideal world, as current trends indicate we will soon achieve, nobody will know how to read or write, and we will all be safe in the knowledge that nobody will have their lease terminated simply because they read an important notice.