Mobile phones rapidly became part of our everyday lives, and now seem an integral aspect of it. It has allowed people to keep in touch, and be much more social than before, but it can also exclude people who don’t know the ins and outs of the technology. Texting abbreviations are one element of the technology that not everyone understands.
Texting in and of itself is easy to understand. Using the phone keys to input words using predictive text, or typing it out has been a big part of our lives for years. But, from this pastime has also evolved a language all of its own, and is the element that can cause exclusion.
Some texting uses acronyms, which tend to use the first letter of each word in the message. The most popular, is LOL, Laugh Out Loud. This three letter acronym is so popular, that it’s slowly making its way into our spoken language as well as text speak. Another popular one is ROFL, Rolls On Floor Laughing. These two summarise nicely the use of acronyms in texting.
Texting abbreviations is another form of “txt spk.” An abbreviation is when something is shortened, in this case, words. For example, the word “mate” is shortened to “m8”, and the paragraph into “txt spk” is short for text speak.
Numbers also play a part in texting abbreviations. They are used to represent letters and words as well as numbers. For example, “143” means “I love you,” “1432” “I love you too.” A favourite is “1337” which means “leet” or elite. It is one of the more obscure meanings, but also one of the most popular.
The other active participant is the symbol. For example “:)” is a smiley face. “:(“ unhappy face, “:D” is a very happy face. These also save time and character space when communicating with others via text.
Part of this is practical, and part laziness. For texts and Tweets (the other medium where this language dominates) have limited characters with which to portray a message. The texting abbreviations and acronyms allowed more to be said within that limitation. The lazy part is all about time and effort. The less effort it takes to do something the happier some people are.
The language is fine as long as both sides of the conversation understands it. Exclusion comes in when younger text users don’t fully understand the language and are too afraid to ask for an explanation. This can act as a social barrier, and fuel for bullying, or making fun of the person.
While there are plenty of online guides to what texting abbreviations mean, if you don’t have one handy, the best way to figure it out is to say it out loud. Many of them are based on phonetics, so saying the word as you see it can trigger recognition out loud. It doesn’t always work, especially in the case of numbers and symbols, but it does with texting abbreviations and acronyms.