Text Message Acronyms

Shortcuts for SMS messaging

Ever wonder how often text message acronyms creep into our face-to-face conversation without us realising?

The English language is a fluid entity that changes and morphs over time. Even the most prescriptive snoot will concede that the rules of grammar are (to a certain degree) flexible, the subject of the generation in which they are applied. Text message acronyms or Txt-speak, however, takes the rules of grammar and syntax to a whole different level.

Chances are you’ll be able to read the following sentence without even the slightest of difficulty (if, that is, you’re under the age of 35): Ey m8, I’ll brb. Jst gta str8n out wts g 4 tmrw. Spk 2 u l8r.

If you can’t figure it out, don’t worry; there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The above sentence makes not the least bit of sense. It’s a bi-product of this 140-character Twitter-age (or, 160-character SMS), technologically manic, hyper-connected world we live in, and as far as we’re all concerned it’s here to stay.

Top 50 Text Message Acronyms

Although, as mentioned above, txt-speak very much is a bi-product of this world we live in, there’s evidence of txt-speak creeping into linguistic circles long ago, in a time when the word Twitter would have been used only as a reference to, perhaps, a pesky bird twittering outside. Turns out that abbreviating (or, butchering) words so that they’re half the size but still recognizable was happening back in Nietzsche’s day, in the 19th century. Of course, it went by another name back then. Emblematic poetry. And, apparently, at the time, it was emblematic of cleverness.

In a poem that was published in 1867, Charles C Bombaugh wrote: “I wrote 2 U B4.” Another verse reads: ‘He says he loves U 2 X S,/ U R virtuous and Y’s,’/ In XL NCUXL / All others in his I’s.”

Since emblematic poetry, txt-speak has continued to evolve, reshaping and redefining the manner in which we communicate with each other through the written word.

Top 50 SMS Acronyms

Unless you’re an English professor or an inconsolable pedant, this txt-speak trend is relatively innocuous. Communication is intended to do just that—communicate. In informal situations, if you can be understood properly using shortened words and fewer of them, compromising on grammar and syntax in a way that doesn’t compromise the message you want to get across isn’t a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a matter of necessary concision. In more formal situations, however, caution should be exercised.

Don't Forget To Stay Professional

Just because it’s trendy to use txt-speak with friends through SMS, doesn’t mean the same rules apply in business communications. Just because some txt-speak words have made it into the dictionary, doesn’t mean they should be used by businesses. Organisations and the people representing them need to be wary of becoming too colloquial (i.e., unprofessional) when their messages are being filtered through platforms notorious for txt-speak SMS, Twitter, most social media, etc. There’s a fine line between condensing words effectively, and butchering your message with sloppy abbreviations. Using common txt-speak words like ‘txt’, or ‘msg’ is fine, especially when space is limited. Just remember, you’re not an emblematic poet from the 19th century, and that business is still, for the most part, a place where formal manners are necessary.

You wouldn’t chew with your mouth wide-open at an important suit and tie luncheon, and then lift up your right leg to relieve yourself (you do that when you get home, in the company of your loved ones). Similarly, txt-speak has its place. Use it wisely.