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Jeffrey Weisman owned an advertising and marketing agency in New York City. In Sarasota, he creates fine-art photography and serves on the board of directors of Art Center Sarasota.
Siesta Key Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 5 years ago

My View: Embracing a different language

by: Jeffrey Weisman

We live on a small island. Yet, sometimes we seem to speak different languages. This reminds me of China, where people from one province speak a different dialect than people from nearby provinces.

On Siesta Key, language differences arise between and within generations.

Social Media: Have you seen young- and middle-aged people staring, studying and concentrating on their smart phones? They spend countless amounts of time texting and tweeting. These social media folks speak a different language as they embrace Facebook and Twitter.

Text messaging and Twitter (which limits messages to 140 characters) make it necessary to use abbreviations or shortened versions of words, OMG (oh my God), BTW (by the way), WTF (what the F-word), L8 (later), brb (be right back), TTYL (talk to you later): that’s Twitterspeak.

Almost everyone knows the meaning of LOL or “laughing out loud.” However, a character on a TV show mistakenly used LOL in a condolence card thinking it met “lots of love.” Kids who don’t want to get caught receiving certain messages may write POS, which means “parents over shoulder.”

Unfortunately, use of these abbreviations and shortcuts contributes to fewer people knowing how to spell. We see numerous misspellings on television news broadcasts — titles, names, statements — below the talking heads.

Car dealers obfuscate in a different language: They use terms like “MSRP” and “invoice” frequently. MSRP is the “manufacturer’s suggested retail price.” Invoice is the “price the dealer says he pays for the car.” So when the car dealers say they will sell their cars to you at invoice, they’re saying that in theory they’re not making any money. (Do they make these “losses” up on the volume?) Don’t let the dealers fool you with that sob story. They get a special payment from the factory for every car they sell.

Gas station superlatives: A gas station near Siesta Key lists three levels of car wash: super, premium and deluxe. Which would you think is the best? They charge $6 for deluxe, $7 for super and $8 for premium. How clean do you want to get? Or are you getting taken to the cleaners? What about the old good, better, best?
Political speak: Differences in language appear in political and/or economic terminology. Consider “trickle down.” In common parlance, trickle down suggests liquid flowing down the chin when you drink water or milk — or beer — too quickly. It can also dribble down or slobber down. That’s it. Simple. Nothing more.

Some apply trickle down to the economy. However, tax savings for the rich do not result in a trickle down of dollars. Rich people already have what they want: no trickle down when, in theory, they might buy a refrigerator, television or car.

Moreover, businesses expand on the basis of markets and the economy, not tax savings. Again, no trickle down.

“Trickle down” seems a bit insulting to our intelligence. The theory is profound; unfortunately, it does not work. Trickle down? Slobber down? Dribble down?

Don’t gulp your drinks too quickly if you want to avoid the trickle down your chin.

Stop and Slow: Fortunately, some words still have the same meaning across all Siesta Key generations and groups. At the construction site on the North Bridge, workers controlled traffic with signs: “Stop” on one side; “Slow” on the other.

These workers perform a valuable service; consider their amazing powers of concentration. It must be so easy for the mind to wander while standing there. What if one did not turn the sign? Two “Slows” at the same time? Oops, a potential accident. Let’s give thanks to these workers who keep us safe by conscientiously employing their four letter words.

Remember: Many of us remember the subway car card: “f u cn rd ths u cn gt a gd jb.” (This ad for a speedwriting system sounds like a Twitter message, doesn’t it?) And what about LSMFT? Was that the forerunner of our current abbreviations? Amazing how long it has lasted.

Those of us who live on and visit Siesta Key are fortunate. As long as we project kindness and concern to our neighbors and friends, the language differences just may disappear.

BR and BFN.

Jeffrey Weisman owned an advertising and marketing agency in New York City. In Sarasota, he creates fine-art photography and serves on the board of directors of Art Center Sarasota.

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