by Edwin D. Reilly, Jr.
for the Sunday Gazette
4scr + 7 yrs ago r fthrs brt 4th on this cn10nt a nu nAshn
cnCvd in lbRT + ddc8d 2 th prop tht all mn r crE8d =
one is given limited space or time to convey a message, there is an
irresistible temptation to abbreviate or otherwise encode what one is trying to
say. That first unverified quote may or may not ever have been uttered by Serena,
but I have actually seen it on a
The current rage, especially among teenagers, is using their cell phones not to talk to their friends, but rather to “text” them in the language partially described above. Yes, “text” is now a verb as well as a noun, linguistic evolution that can hardly be criticized because it is so common in English. We “chair” meetings at which motions are “tabled”; “water” our lawns; “book” our flights; “silence” our cell phones; and “diagram” our sentences (or at least I still do, mentally, as I write them).
There should be a good name for the shorthand used for texting, but none has yet become standard. One candidate is “chatspeak,” derived from the now waning days when the texters spent a lot of time on their computers “chatting” in shorthand with a friend on line at the same time. But instead of the neologism “chatspeak” I suggest that we emulate the ending of “English” or “Spanish” or “Danish” and call the shorthand “textish,” or, alternatively, use the ending of “Chinese” or “Japanese” and call it “textese,” with the latter better rendered as “textease.”
surprising that so many individual letters and digits can be used in place of a
word. Certainly “A” and “I” speak for themselves, but one may use B for “be” or
“bee,” C for “see,” G for “gee,” J for “jay,” K for “Kay,” O for “oh,” P for “pea”
or “pee,” Q for “cue” or “queue,” R for “are” (or less felicitously, for
“our”), T for “tea” or “tee,” U for “you” or “ewe,” and Y for “why.” Some words are easily replaced by special
characters, such as & or + for “and,” X for “times,” and = for “equals,” as
was done in the fractured opening of the
Juvenile text messages are often filled with abbreviations of phrases that are borderline clichés, examples being LOL for “laughing out loud,” ROFL for “rolling on (the) floor laughing,” BTW for “by the way,” IMHO for “in my humble opinion,” and CWOT for “complete waste of time.” But IMHO, such usage is itself a CWOT and should be abolished ASAP B4 it’s 2l8.
find textease amusing, I abhor the very thought of texting.
I send and receive tens of email messages per week, and those I send I write in
full spell-checked English. But I have never texted anyone, and never will. Textease is helping to destroy our precious language.
Recently, a flabbergasted teacher received an essay written in textease by a 13-year old girl. The student claimed that it
was much easier to compose than if written in Standard English. She wrote:
"My smmr hols wr a CWOT. B4, we used 2 go 2 NY 2 C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kids FTF. ILNY, it's a
gr8 plc." (Translation: "My summer holidays were a complete waste of
time. Before, we used to go to
wouldn’t be able to text even if I wanted to. My fingers could not cope with
the tiny keys on the keyboards of most cell phones that have them. But young
people are so adept at one-handed texting that many become reckless and do so
behind the wheel. Unfortunately, they can’t yet be arrested for DWT (Driving While
Texting) because the hands-off cellular usage laws of most states have not yet been
updated to prohibit such a dangerous practice. In June of 2007 in
messaging was reported to have addictive tendencies by a survey conducted by the
Finnish company Nokia in 2001 and was confirmed to be addictive by a similar
study at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium in 2004. A study at the
Ma Bell started all this by saying “Reach out and touch someone.” But do so gently. Write or call or email, but—Cn U hr me nw?—please do not text.
Edwn D. Rly Jr lvs in NsKuna & is a rglar cntrbtr 2 d Sndy Gzet opn pg.
Postscript of 11/08/2008 The engineer in