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Is Twitter Dumbing Down English, Like Ralph Fiennes Thinks?

Ralph Fiennes thinks that kids today have difficulty with words over two syllables, and that Twitter is to blame.

Although Twitter does appear to be the social network of choice for celebrities, Fiennes is having none of it.

He doesn’t have his own account, but he apparently knows enough about Twitter to write it off as a detriment to the progress of the human species.

Speaking at the BFI London Film Festival awards, Fiennes didn’t mince words when discussing just how harmful he believes Twitter is. He thinks that language is being eroded due to “a world of truncated sentences, sound-bites and Twitter.”

He went on to say that students working with Shakespeare at drama schools have difficulty with words that students a generation ago would have been able to handle, and that,

“Our expressiveness and our ease with some words is being diluted so that the sentence with more than one clause is a problem for us, and the word of more than two syllables is a problem for us.”

There’s no doubt that Twitter requires shorter, more concise thinking. 140 characters isn’t a whole lot to work with, especially when you’re including an @mention or a link.

However, I’m not so sure it’s as easy as “pick a technology and blame it” for our problems. Twitter isn’t forcing kids to truncate their words, kids are choosing to. That’s how many use Twitter – by removing vowels, using shorter words and leaving grammar and spelling at the door.

Not everyone on Twitter allows sentence structure and the beauty of long, complex words to be trampled, however. Many people stick to their grammar guns and make a point to tweet as if they were using any other, more formal medium to communicate.

What do you think? Is Twitter responsible, at least in part, for eroding language? Let us know in the comments below.

(Image courtesy of olly via Shutterstock)

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