Candlepower

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Text Messaging for the Testy

You say you're not familiar with text messaging? Well, all the kids are doing it. It's so much easier than talking on the phone, which, after all, requires the laborious movement of one's jaw and the ever-taxing production of sound. And it's useful for communicating at and from loud events like concerts and ball games (having shelled out 60 clams for a ticket, one wants to ignore said events discreetly). Texting is also handy when you absolutely must converse with two people at the same time, i.e. one on the cell, the other through acronyms (it's still rude but in a cool, cutting-edge way and so much less obvious than clackety-clacking away on your desktop while on the phone with Aunt Barb). Furthermore, it can be downright indispensable in class and while traversing surface streets (don't try this on the freeway).

So you see, there's no point in fighting a rising tide. As millions of folks regress to a lexicon dominated by abbreviations and coded truncations like "LOL" and "L8R," the least we can do is offer a few new turns of the screw. Hence The EE Menu of Text Expressions (each entry conveniently fewer than 160 characters), for those forced to thumb-type on the go who nonetheless mourn the loss of grandiloquent public expression. NJOY!

  • NLE2M: Not laughing, even to myself.
  • URSAGAM: Your spelling and grammar appall me.
  • TWDOWWRAANC: Texting while driving — oops, wasn't watching road and am now crashing.
  • URD2M: You're dead to me.
  • ISOURG: I spit on your grave.
  • OLRUS: Our lives are unpardonably shallow.
  • TUMFTI: Thought you might find this interesting (particularly useful when forwarding an e-clipping about a newly discovered health risk).
  • CTNTF: Can't text now; thumbs fatigued.
  • TRE: Technology ruins everything.
  • IBMM: I blame Marshall McLuhan.
  • 23S!: 23 skidoo!
  • WIWURAWDHTM: When I was your age, we didn't have text messaging.
  • ISRN2U: I'm standing right next to you.
  • HWBNIICSM: Hit wrong button; now inexplicably in clock-setting menu.
  • HSORAID2PLSM: Heard song on radio and instantly downloaded to phone! Life still meaningless.
  • NPM@TT: No personal message at this time.

Of course, sometimes employing even this little language is prohibitively enervating. Emoticons to the rescue! These clever diacritical sculptures allow us to add a bit of emotional nuance to our abbreviated messages. Still, how often can we lean on smileys, frowneys and cobbled-together Valentine hearts? Here, too, we believe, there's room for surprise.

:| I'm neutral.
:} I seem to have grown a handlebar mustache.
:{> Now I have a van dyke.
:^# My new braces are uncomfortable.
:& People often tell me my mouth resembles an ampersand. (Alternately: Eating a pretzel.)

Have you composed some fresh texting shorthand? Let us know in the comments!


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Simon Glickman is a partner in Editorial Emergency, a Los Angeles copy shop specializing in content manufacturing and brand communications for entertainment, lifestyle and nonprofit concerns. He is also a roving correspondent for music-industry trade publications HITS Magazine and HITSDailyDouble.com, the producer-emcee of Los Angeles institution The Classic Rock Singalong, and an aspiring nature photographer. Many years ago, Glickman earned a doctorate in literature from Oxford University. Click here to read more articles by Simon Glickman.

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Comments from our users:

Monday October 27th 2008, 8:59 AM
Comment by: Herb B. (Ruidoso, NM)
A recent applicant for a job in a local office answered "Text Messaging" in the office skills space for typing.


Don't know text messaging ...yet. I plan to learn. Many of my adult friends are beginning to consider learning. All have the same reservation.."my fingers are too big for those little keys". I notice, however, they are considering a keyboarded cell phone. Me too.

Then comes the need for learning the lexicon of abbreviations. Perhaps this will help keep my 76 year old brain more nimble.

I am very much enjoying the series of articles that have appeared regarding our developing new way of communicating.
Monday October 27th 2008, 9:26 AM
Comment by: Sam L.
Wonder if this will lead to a new form of physical conditioning know as "TT" (thumb therapy)?
Monday October 27th 2008, 10:34 AM
Comment by: Don H. (Antioch, CA)Top 10 Commenter
Made me smile!

I thought OLRUS was the best...!
Monday October 27th 2008, 8:59 PM
Comment by: languagenut
And I mistakingly thought things would never go farther than WYSIWYG, TTYL, LMAO or others of the like. I have to say I loved the one about the uncomfy braces. LOL
Monday October 27th 2008, 9:30 PM
Comment by: K
fe)

(Ironic smile.)
Tuesday October 28th 2008, 5:44 PM
Comment by: Roger Dee (Haslett, MI)Top 10 Commenter
If you can't have a little fun with language you better loosen up! Love it.
Wednesday January 7th 2009, 9:16 PM
Comment by: LisaMarie71 (Southern California, CA)
For a late thirties lady, I think I'm pretty up on techie trends, but text messaging has me baffled. It's not the "how to text message," it is all of the texting short hand. As shown, it has moved beyond phonetic replacement, i.e. 2=to, or b4= before, to assumed "common phrases", i.e. BFF= Best Friend Forever, TTYS= talk to you soon. What happened to grammer and punctuation? Do they sell a texting short hand manual so that one can "learn" a new language if one so desires? Will our children lose the ability to speak properly because their main mode of communcating is this short hand for texting and IMing?

I think a recent phone commercial animates this frustration best. It shows a mother chasing her daughter through the house while trying to talk to her and being at a complete loss because her daughter is only speaking to her in this short hand language (which appears to be foreign to the mom). This tongue-in-cheek commercial is a more telling fear for our future then we may want to believe.

Our nation can't read above a 5th grade level on the average. (I believe that is the level that the nation's newspapers edit their articles to be published. No VT use there.) One third of our graduating seniors can't read or write. Might texting be part of this problem? If we don't enforce some literate structure in society, where will our literate level be 50 years from now? Never mind the question of whether there will be printed papers, even the web-based news information is printed at a 5th grade level today.

In addition, we are already having difficulty translating from one language to another around this world. It is not just the sheer number of dialects, but also all of the slang terms that are used in each region. If we throw this short hand into the mix, we will never be able to communicate outside of our own region. And you think you're misunderstood now? Just wait. Our troubles are just beginning.

Plus, if we speak in short hand, when will we need to use VT?

I like and will continue to use my phonetic replacement and minimized use of articles to text. It may take longer to communicate, but at least I know my point will get across.

L8R!

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David Crystal debunks the conventional wisdom about text messaging.
In part two of our interview, David Crystal talks about the new social expectations surrounding texting.
Our interview with David Crystal ends with a discussion of the effects of texting on children's literacy.