Future of texting lingo

23 May

On one hand, I’ve personally seen a decrease in my generation’s use of abbreviations and “textisms” in electronic communication. As more of our mobile devices become equipped with technology that, for example, automatically finishes words, the need to use abbreviations lessens. The goal of these abbreviations is, after all, being able to communicate quickly, but if people can communicate quickly and maintain the “traditional” spellings of words, I think they will. People like the familiar, the things learned in childhood; if change isn’t necessary, we tend to avoid it.

The newest generation of technology users, however, has grown up with “textisms” and abbreviations as a part of its lexicon. For this generation, these shorthands are not stand-ins for other words; they are the words themselves. Most of the people I know who are a couple of years younger than I am tend to use texting shorthands at a much higher rate than I do. In this way, I could see texting shorthands sticking around and eventually taking over; they are, after all, often stored in a phone’s word bank along with their longer counterparts. Additionally, I think there are some “textisms” that are not merely abbreviations but words in their own right, created to help overcome challenges of communicating electronically. Take “LOL”, for example. Oftentimes I’m not actually laughing out loud when using this word, but I type it so a friend can detect sarcasm or a joke on my part, subtleties that texts cannot always convey. As I hear this “textism” and others enter our verbal lexicon, I take it as a sign they are further entrenching themselves in our language. Language has been spoken much, much longer than it has been written and is a more innate part of the human experience.

Some adults may need help translating this t-shirt...

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One Response to “Future of texting lingo”

  1. Jordan Boyd May 28, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    We discussed this issue in my History of Modern English class last semester, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    Middle school-aged kids drive language change the most, at least in Western societies. You might find this article interesting: http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2008/01/yo-new-gender-neutral-pronoun.html
    T9 giving way to QWERTY may also have an effect. Seeing where English is in fifty years will be pretty damn interesting!
    I love your blog, Dana!!

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