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18 Comments

  • As a rather slow and incompetent texter, I often fall foul of predictive text (which I learned to use only after a tutorial from my daughter). The other day I informed my son that his father, who had just left on a trip abroad, had sinned*. ‘What, after only one day?’ was his retort.

    I’m also bemused by some other textonyms. I can see where ‘nun’ for ‘mum’ comes from (the dictionary must have originated in the US; altho kids here in Brum also write ‘mom’). But ‘lord’ for ‘lose’? Is someone trying to tell me something?

    * (of course I meant to text ‘phoned’. Presumably the term of choice is ‘called’).

  • My use of abbreviations comes down to not just space but the number of keystrokes. On my Droid, “L8r” is 5 keystrokes (l, change to number keyboard, 8, change back, r); “later” is also 5 keystrokes. As long as space isn’t an issue, why bother with abbreviations that take the same amount of keystrokes or more?

  • Liz: That’s a brilliant unintended meaning! Your son was quick on the draw, too. My current phone doesn’t learn from my choices: I’m forced to cycle through the same disfavoured options every time. There should be a better way.

    Erin: A very good point, and one Crystal addresses in his book. Keystroke counts and modes differ considerably from one phone type to the next.

  • I was very interested to read your opening paragraph, it makes your texting idiolect sound very much like mine. I tend to have a couple of registers for texting. Work texts are fully spelled, but without apostrophes or commas, and without articles when possible. Social texts, especially to <25-yr old friends, tend to be more txtspk. And texts to my desi friends are mildly Hinglish, using whichever language has the shorter words,e.g. kal for yesterday/tomorrow.

  • Using Swype’s finger-always on the keyboard word crafting makes the use of most contractions unnecessary, although its predictive vocabulary is sometimes silly or illogical – like the sinning above.

    Alan Bachers

  • My texting style definitely depends on the ‘textee’ (is that a real word?) – one of my sons tends not to use abbreviations and I respond in kind, finding myself typing the full word. My daughter uses the number-letter ones you describe and sometimes I have to pause to work it out….My dilemma is the use of text style in emails on my ifon. This struck me recently when I found myself replying to an email in text-speak and then realised how this must read to someone opening it as an email. Personally, I would hate it and see it as lazy and disrespectful – as though I set standards for communicating by text that can’t be allowed to apply to email. Stan, communication has become increasingly more complicated – bring back the quill an ink I say!

  • Stuart: Very interesting. I rarely if ever type out yesterday in text messages, generally using y’day instead. (Kal sounds like a handy alternative.) I don’t tend to omit apostrophes; in fact I probably use them more often, to indicate missing letters.

    Alan: I see what you mean, though I’ve never used Swype.

    Helen: Textee is definitely a word, albeit non-standard for now; it’s far less fussy than message recipient! Text messages for work, like email more generally, occupy something of a grey area as regards style and etiquette, I think, and probably vary a lot from one person or context to the next.

  • I am German and I seldom send textmessages via phone, but prefer emails instead. I don’t like abbreviations and wouldn’t use them. But we do have them and I can’t get used to them. We often finish a text with: mit freundlichen Grüssen, which becomes MFG- I don’t feel, reading this, that someone is sending Grüsse ( greetings ) to me, but abbreviations. The same happens with : Liebe Grüsse : LG
    Just to give you a few examples in German.

  • Rominski: Thank you for sharing these examples and your thoughts on them. I think it can be one of the effects of abbreviations, that it distances the word from its referent. So ‘LOL’ can signify slight amusement rather than actual, audible laughter. On the other hand, the convention in English for sending a kiss – not just in text messages but in emails, letters and so on – is ‘x’; I don’t know anyone who feels short-changed by them, but maybe someone does.

  • […] How’s your txtng style? analyses how the language you use in text messages differs from your style in email and your prose elsewhere. I compare the grammar and style of my own text messages with what I know about others’, and I dismiss the suggestion that texting is somehow harmful to language: New modes and styles of expression are an important part of language change and growth – they have ‘spawned all sorts of clever, funny and inventive new uses of language’, as Michael put it. Texting, like slang, is an ‘active frontier’, and the innovation and flux it illustrates is a sign of linguistic health. So long as communication is effective, and young people learn (or are taught) when texting style is inappropriate, there is no call for alarm. Despite occasional panic, texting is not ruining language – it’s just another way for social creatures to be social. […]

  • I wonder if Germans in general use more text abbreviations, as from what I’ve seen abbreviations are more common in more contexts in German than in English (usw, bzw, etc).

  • Sam, I think we generally use a lot of abbreviations in German and they are widely accepted. But as this thread is about text massages I was just focussing on the latest usages. The ones you gave as an example are even to be found in more formal texts and have been around for a long time..