Shorten those words! Or just spell them wrong…

May 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm 6 comments

Mobile phones started it, online chat continued it, Facebook made it mainstream and Twitter took it to a whole new level. Bashing the English language has become the norm. If you use proper grammar and spell everything out in full nowadays, you’re the weird one!

There’s the common conception that there is a language called “txt speak”. And there is, but not as you know it. Generation Z (are we up to that yet?) use words like ‘lol’ as part of their everyday language… out loud. You’re not up with the play any more if you simply know what OMG stands for. “Txt speak”, if we have to put a label on it, is a continually developing language, and it’s Twitter that is adding the most recent touches to it.

I’m not talking about Twitter’s own language either, that’s another story altogether. In fact, I was recently on and learnt a few things for myself! Aside from the fact that you can add ‘Tw’ to the start of any word to add Twitter to its definition (I think the most amusing one I found was ‘Twurch’, which means providing sermons and scripture over Twitter), there were numerous new acronyms and a plethora of new words. And the prerequisite for word creation seems to be as simple as celebrities using it. Then if it starts getting RTd (re-tweeted) on a regular basis, it’s a word.

Twitter has also normalised the shortening of words like never before. It did start with txting, but not everyone picked up on it. And saying as much as possible while using as few characters as possible couldn’t be more important than when you’re Twittering – y wld u typ 4 ages whn u cn gt ur msg in 1 line?

If you want to remain fluent in “txt speak”, ensure you know the following so you aren’t lost from the word go:

• ICYMI – in case you missed it

• JSYK – just so you know

• IIRC – if I recall correctly

• IMHO – in my humble opinion

• DYK – did you know

• FTR – for the record

And the same applies to signing off. If someone ends a txt, Facebook or Twitter message with HAND, don’t look puzzled, they’re actually being nice. It means “have a nice day”.

What do you think of txt speak? Have you heard any interesting new words or acronyms lately? What do you think of people using the acronyms as part of everyday spoken conversation?



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Why you should hire good writers Defining technical writing

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Charlotte Mill  |  May 4, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I do a lot of technical writing and instructional design for United Nations Agencies. Now they are THE masters of an old-style ‘tex-speak’: the Acronymn.

    What’s interesting is that some agencies, such as the World Health Organization, have realised it’s actually a major communication issue. The problem is that only they know what they are talking about. In a complex and increasingly competitive environment, this only serves to alienate their partners and clients. In the interest of broad stakeholder engagement and improved dialogue with national counterparts, there is new drive to reduce the use acronyms. Some offices have even gone so far as to ban the use of them altogether. In others they try to use more understandable ways to shorten a term or programme title.

    While txt may be cool for the Gen Y’s and Z’ds – universal clear, plain and correct communication is far cooler for way longer!


    • 2. Astrid  |  May 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      When I started a new job many years ago, I was handed a 4-page glossary of abbreviations and acronyms with my induction package. Learning the corporate lingo was an important initiation rite and bonding exercise with the new workmates. It soon became second nature to talk in code — except that customers would look at us blankly and fail to be impressed. We actually had to modify the training for sales and customer service staff to stop them from slipping into corporate speak. As always, it pays to know your audience.

  • 3. Hannah  |  May 4, 2011 at 2:46 am

    I like to use “OMG” in everyday speech as it seems more polite than saying “Oh my God”, but is still a bit irreverent. But I’ve vowed never, ever, to use “LOL” in any context!

    • 4. tacticsinnz  |  May 4, 2011 at 4:56 am

      Speaking of LOL, recently I heard someone saying ‘ROFL’ out loud! They pronounced it like ‘roffle’. It took me a while to get what they meant!


  • 5. Maryanne  |  May 4, 2011 at 2:52 am

    ARGH! Check line 13 for an it’s that is possessive not a contraction of “it is”.
    English is a moving feast, always has been, always will be. I like that there can be different forms of it, for different functions. Braille, for example, is chock full of short hand, for similar reasons to Twitter – space. A common concern is that these specific usage forms will somehow override ‘Real English’. I would hate for that to happen but if it does, so be it. I won’t be contributing to the process, however!

    • 6. tacticsinnz  |  May 4, 2011 at 5:01 am

      Thanks for the correction Maryanne, I must’ve missed that in the proof read!

      That’s fascinating about braille using short hand – are words always shortened in the same way, or can it vary depending on the author?


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