The Joy Of Text

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Have you ever been in the frustrating position of trying to make head or tail of a text message, sent by someone under the age of twenty? I know I have. I received one yesterday, and I don't mind admitting that I couldn't understand 80% of it. And that was a particularly coherent one - 20% of readable text is something of an achievement. I had greater success deciphering hieroglyphics when I was on vacation in Egypt.

An increasing number of people are using text messages for conducting business, or just making quick conversation. As a result, we may all have to get used to, and even become fluent in, the commoner text abbreviations much favored by adolescents. These tech-savvy youngsters will be your customers one day very soon and, let's face it, they will probably expect you to understand their messages. And while not everyone wants to start learning, what amounts to, a whole new language, it might just serve to familiarize yourself with some of the more widely used shorthand currently in use. It's not too hard, after all, I imagine most of us are already familiar with the ubiquitous LOL...

In essence, the best way to approach understanding a significant amount of abbreviated text messaging is to use a little common sense, as most of it reasonably logical. From what I can tell, the first step in the process to creating a 'contemporary' text message is to simply remove the vowels. Thus, 'text message' becomes' txt mssg' and so on. Some are slightly more transparent and, as in the case of the familiar LOL, are simply acronyms that just need to be learned. For those readers ignorant of what LOL stands for; it's 'laugh out loud'. Or sometimes, 'lots of love'. Not at all confusing, huh? The context in which it is used will often help. But not always. Though if your boss, or a client, returns a message with LOL at the end, it's fair to assume that they've been amused by the content of your text. Or at least, you'd better hope so.

The use of combined figures to create words or phrases is also popular. Some of these are really quite ingenious. A simple heart (admittedly, on it's side) can be implied with the use of: <3 so that a sentence such as 'I love you' can be condensed to i <3 u using half the number of characters. And when one has homework, a whole load of social networking to do and a new season of Vampire Diaries to worry about, time really is at a premium.

Of course, single digits can be used to represent whole words and sounds, as in the case of 'you' in that last example. The 'ate' sound in words can be distilled to '8' so that a word such as 'debate' can be simply shortened to 'db8'. Or, perhaps more useful, 'great' becomes 'gr8'.

It does get rather complicated, the further one looks into the extent to which text language has grown. For example, the unsuspecting textee may not realize that the amusingly onomatopoeic 'MWAH' means 'a kiss', or similarly 'PU' means 'that stinks'. I like to think that somewhere in the world, there is an office containing a dozen teenagers being paid to come up with more and more of these things.

It's not essential that we all learn the entire text lexicon, but rather than dismiss it merely as a fad, it's probably worth familiarizing oneself with the more commonly used 'txt' vocabulary. If we do that, we just might safeguard our ability to communicate with the next generation of property buyers. Or, ppty byrs, as they may well come to be known.

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