is shorthand ruining the English language?

A Language Arts teacher pulls me aside, "Mr. Johnson, I'm concerned about your former sixth graders.  Did you teach them how to write properly?"

"Yes sir, I did.  Are they having a hard time?"

"Well, I'm concerned that some of them have been using shorthand and abbreviations," she explains.

"Well, that doesn't surprise me.  They often hand one another messages written in shorthand before and after school. Apparently they even set the messages on the walls of their friend's homes," Mr. Brown mentions.

"You mean they leave comments for everyone to read?" the Language Arts teacher asks.

"Yes. Personally, I blame it on those PenPal networks they've joined," Mr. Brown adds.

I stay diplomatic and say, "I'll work harder on teaching them proper grammar and punctuation."

Upon further reflection, I have a few thoughts:
  • Short-hand is simply another register.  People can switch between casual slang, casual, formal English, persuasive essays, etc. without one register "bleeding over" into the other. A true writer can write a persuasive paper and a poem without losing the ability to do either.
  • Short-hand is designed to be efficient and has its place.  Some day, secretaries will use it, I'm sure. My guess is you'll see it throughout the corporate world.
  • Language is fluid. It changes constantly.  I can't think of the last time I voted for a member of "Congrefs"
  • I use shorthand when students take notes. I also allow them to send answers on a shorthand message. Shorthand can have its place in the classroom.
  • Teachers shouldn't ban shorthand, but instead teach students about the time and place to use it.  That's the key to pencil-integrated literacy.

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