Monday, October 17, 2011

Text-Speak, The Language of Mobile Phones

Ever since the mobile phone was invented life has never been the same. Mobile phones, also referred to as cellular phones or cellphones, have been around for many years. The mobile phone has evolved by leaps and bounds. In the beginning, it was only for military purposes. Now, anyone who can afford one, has one. It has become a sort of status symbol within the society.

The main reason for owning a mobile phone is to keep one connected with the people in their lives. Mobile phones are used for personal calls as well as business calls. It becomes a sort of lifeline. Cellphone owners can make voice calls, send short messages or even make video calls (depending on the features of the mobile phone) in order to communicate with another person.

Text messaging

More than being able to make a voice call from practically anywhere a cell site is located, it is the ability to send text messages that is more vital to cellphone users. Text messages are sent by means of an application called SMS or short message service. This application allows the sending of short messages from one mobile phone to another. These short messages or texts can also be received by computers and other types of mobile devices.

The first text message was sent in 1992 in the United Kingdom. The message originated from a computer and was received by a mobile phone. But the first SMS text sent by a person to another person from one mobile phone to another happened in Finland in 1993.

SMS language

Since texting (sending text messages) is a form of communication, it has its own language: SMS language. Other terms used to refer to this language are:

• textese
• text-speak
• chatspeak
• txtese
• txtspk
• texting language
• texting lingo
• txt talk
• txto
• txtk
• SMSish

These terms all point to abbreviations and slangs used commonly when texting because of their brevity. When sending a text message, one cannot be verbose. It costs money to send one text message. This cost differs from one telecommunications company to the next. So in order to save money, long messages are shortened. The shorter the text message is, the better for the sender (and sometimes the recipient of the message, too).

SMS language is similar to Internet shortcuts used in instant messaging (IM) and email. In fact, the abbreviations and slangs used in texting are also used in IM and email. An example of this shortcut used in all three forms of communication is “OMG” which stands for “oh my God” of “oh my gosh!” Think of SMS language as similar to rebus. SMS uses single letters, numbers and pictures to represent words and phrases.

How it works

Words with common abbreviations are abbreviated when used in texting. A single symbol is also used to represent a word when available or applicable. For example, “and” is represented by “&” (the ampersand). Single letters are also used as shortcuts to words. A good example is the use of the number “8” is texting. “8” in SMS language replaces the sound “ate.” When you want to include the word “create” in your text type “cr8” instead. The letter “c” is regularly used instead of the words “see” or “sea.” The word “you” is typed in as “u” in a text message. So the phrase “see you later” will appear as “c u l8r.”

But for those words without common abbreviations, texters remove vowels from these words. The recipient is left to interpret the series of consonants by means of reinserting the vowels that seem to be missing. An example of this would be the word “computer.” It becomes “cmptr” in textspeak. Or the recipient may just use “ntbk,” “lptp,” “PC” or “MAC” depending on what type of computer he is referring to.

It is often up to the recipient to interpret the single letters, symbols and abbreviations. “LOL” for example is a common abbreviation in text messages and even in IM and email. It usually means “laugh out loud.” But it can also mean “lots of love.” They key to understanding a text is the context in which the abbreviated words are used.

Sample vocabulary

and = &, n or nd
are = r
at = @
ate = 8
be = b
before = b4
for, fore = 4
forget = 4get
great = g8
late = l8
love = luv
oh = o
okay = ok or k
once = 1ce
skater = sk8r
thank you = tnx, ty, 10q, thnq
the = d
therefore = thr4
to or too = 2
today = 2day
tomorrow = 2moro or 2mro
we = v
what = wat
where = wer
why = y
you = u
your = ur

Why text-speak is often criticized

There are no rules of grammar for SMS language. Each texter can pretty much play with the words as he pleases. This is why some people are concerned that text-speak is wrecking language. Some find it irritating. Others say that it promotes laziness. Texters are believed to be sloppy in terms of use of proper grammar as well as punctuation. Children are especially vulnerable to this, experts say. They believe that children will grow up not knowing how to spell properly and how to write and speak using correct grammar. It will be interesting to see exactly the effects of SMS language to the linguistic development of children in the future.

Nw wat?

There are many reasons why people send text messages through their mobile phones. What each person should keep in mind when sending a text is whether the recipient will easily understand the combination of shortened words, single letters and symbols in his message and whether it is appropriate to use slangs and abbreviations. In business and more formal or official text communication, slangs and SMS language abbreviations are usually shunned. One should never send this text to an important client: “C u l8r!” or “Tnx 4 d biznes!”

Consequently, older people may not be text savvy enough to understand something like “My doter njyd the chcl8s Grandma! Hav a 1drfl trp bk 2 NJ.” With a message like this, you can almost see grandma scratching her head in confusion.

The main objective of texting using SMS language is to use as few characters as possible. This is because telecommunication companies have put a ceiling on the number of characters that can appear in one message. Each text message costs money so texters tend to want to keep to one text per message. All mobile phone texters should remember that the main objective of texting is to get a message across to another person. If the message cannot be easily understood, then the message might get lost in translation.


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Unknown said...

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Love Sms
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