Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bored of Textese

BFS Dan’s latest column in the SJ-R takes on texting. I text frequently and I do sometimes use some of the shortcuts (“r u” for “are you” is probably my most commonly used textese) but for the most part I too insist on spelling things out (correctly!) using proper grammar and even using punctuation. And for all the claims that kids can communicate by text efficiently, I know that about half the texts I get from my kids are barely intelligible even after you account for the shortcuts.

My theory is that your texting provides a window into your overall writing skills. Your ability, or lack thereof, to construct a coherent sentence and efficiently convey an idea is going to be reflected in your texting. However, I don’t fear the shortcut as long as it’s used as a stand-in for the proper word.

Who knows, maybe texting will someday evolve the language towards simpler forms of words. Would “U” really be so bad as a word to replace “You”? We already have “I”. And isn’t “okay” or “OK” just a shortcut from a bygone era? I’d be good with just “K”. Acronyms are another matter since they really aren’t words. For example, I don’t think OMG or BFF are ever going to be defined as single words.

Texting’s biggest advantage is its stealthiness. Cell phones are great for communicating when you are out and about, but when you need to communicate quietly, texting is the way to go. It’s also more private and less annoying to everyone around you. And unless you are driving, there really is no downside to using text messages over voice communication (other than maybe talking is quicker).

So I say keep on texting. Just be good to the language, use proper sentence structure, spell words correctly (or use a shortcut!) and wear sunscreen.

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