It’s time to ditch the auto-correct software, and stop worrying about spelling and grammar.

That’s the word from Anne Trubeck, a language expert at Oberlin College. She says things like dictionaries and spell-check software are only good for one thing: Writing books. Because when it comes to the way we write to each other, spelling rules change every time there’s a change in technology.

For example: Trubeck says before the printing press was invented in the 1400s, there were at least 100 different ways to spell the word “through” in England alone! But the printing press forced people to come up with spelling rules, to make books easier to understand.

Then, in 1837, Samuel Morse invented the electric telegraph, and people started looking for creative new ways to write messages with as few words as possible. That’s when abbreviations like “ASAP,” “IOU” and “OK” entered our language, because people didn’t care if you skipped a few letters in a telegram, as long as they understood your message.

Today, Trubeck says the same thing’s happening with gadgets like smartphones and tablets. 

They’re encouraging people to write in a more “casual” way, that’s closer to how we really speak. So, that’s why you see people typing “L-8-R” in text messages, for example, as a shortcut for “later”or “U-R” as a shortcut for the word “your.” And Trubeck says it doesn’t matter which version of “your” you’re referring to, as long as people understand what you’re trying to say.

And that’s the point. Trubeck says instead of fussing about misspelled words in texts and emails, we should all be able to make up our own spelling rules.

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