Text messaging has created a new “language” of sorts that is destroying the written word and has infected all aspects of our society. Driven by young cell phone users who would rather text than talk, these abbreviations are appearing in advertising, new media, and college term papers.

SMS (Short Message Service) technology is a communications protocol allowing for short text messages to be sent between mobile telephone devices. Text messaging has become the most widely used data application in the world with 2.4 billion users—-74% of all mobile phones send or receive text messages.

What SMS has done is to create a new language based on the use of fewer key strokes. For example, consider the following:

• “how r u?” means “How are you?”
• “lol” means “Laugh out loud”.
• “brb” means “Be right back”.
• “ttyl” means “Talk to you later”.
• “pcb” means “Please Call Back”.

My concern is that I don’t think this destruction of the English language is going away; in fact, I think it will only become more common. While at first it may seem no big deal, when you dig deeper into text-speak, you will see that many discrepancies or exceptions exist. For example:

• “because” can be written as “cuz”, “bcuz”, “bcz”, “bcos”, “bc”, “coz”, and “bcoz”.
• “lol” may mean “Laugh out loud” or “Lots of love” or “Lots Of Laughter” .
• “Got to go” can be written as “g2g” or “gtg”.
• “Tomorrow” can be written as “tom”, “2moz”, “2moro”, “2mrw”, or “2mara”.

Honestly, English is hard enough without all this new slang. Yet, this phenomenon is real. The Associated Press is reporting that New Zealand is going to let high school students use text-speaking or texting acronyms in national exams. The move has been extremely controversial. New Zealand’s high school students will be able to use text-speak in national scholastic examinations.

Advertisers seem to be greeting this trend. AT&T /Cingular recently ran a highly successful commercial which featured a mother and daughter having a conversation talking in cell phone text-speak. You actually had to understand text-speak to be able to understand the advertisement’s message.

IMHO (in my humble opinion), text-speak does not belong in business communications, but I may be drowned out by the thundering herd of text message users. So, to you who are text speak illiterate, I recommend that you “rtfm” (read the flippin’ manual) and get on board.

The reason for my flip-flop on this issue is cuz (because) hcb! (Holy Cow Batman!), this text-speak is real.

Hand (have a nice day),

JBJ (John Bradley Jackson)
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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1 Comment
  1. Christy

    Text-speak is definitely an interesting phenomena. One of which I am still learning in my early 30s. In business, I agree, it’s not appropriate and it’s too casual for B2B communications. I can see it happening for information purposes only, like confirming reservations to a restaurant. (New idea, eh?)

    For personal use, it’s a time saver and convenient – especially if you understand how T9 works. More importantly, texting is unlimited on most plans, so you can save your minutes for more talk-worthy phone calls.

    Good article post. See you in class on Thurs.


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