Through email, social networks, websites, forums, and chat messaging, we communicate faster than ever. More information is available to more people in the world than ever before. People are reading more, and becoming more aware of world events. However, some people worry that the content on the internet is low quality, and so we are not really benefitting from it as much as we think.
Part of these changes in our methods of communication has to do with the way we express ourselves in writing. Some people worry that we will soon forget how to write full words and sentences correctly because we practice it less and less. This is because SMS and chat messaging using a tiny telephone keyboard has resulted in a new internet “language” , using English acronyms, abbreviations and numbers to represent words and phrases. You may be familiar with some common forms of these such as “LOL” or “BRB”, which translates to “laughing out loud” and “be right back”, respectively. This new language is called SMS language, also known as “textese” (wikipedia.org) or “textspeak” (dictionary.reference.com).
You will notice that SMS language, like most of the internet, is rooted in the English language. It is possible to access popular sites like Facebook, Amazon or Pinterest in hundreds of different languages, as these websites have hundreds of people working to translate them. However many smaller websites, indeed many legitimate news websites as well as popular shopping websites, are largely only available in English.
In addition, since the internet was originally created in English and first became widespread in the United States, it has become the most common language on the internet (internetworldstats.com). This is very interesting, because despite being known as the most common business and internet language, English is only the 3rd most common language spoken in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish! (alsintl.com)
English is a language that is constantly evolving. We can see this through the hundreds of different types of English spoken in the world, but also through slang words and even new words invented due to changing technologies. For example, it is now possible to use the name of a website or other nouns as a verb, as in “I googled the train schedule” or “Sally friend requested me yesterday.” Because of the unique ability of the English language to change like this, these new verbs are starting to be adopted by other languages!
Have you ever received a text message from a friend in SMS language or “textese”? Were you able to understand it? Try our quick quiz below to test your English SMS language skills!
QUICK QUIZ: Try to decipher these commonly used English textese words and phrases as quickly as possible!*
THX or TU
IMO or IMHO
BF or BFF
WTH or WTF (adult)
How did you do on the quiz? Were you able to decipher at least HALF of the abbreviations?
You will find the answers at the bottom of this post so you can learn them!
Do you think English “textese” is a real language?
Do you think future generations will stop learning to write correctly because of these evolutions in technology and language?
Do you know some SMS language in your own native language?
Please click on the comments and share your opinion with us at Speak English Center!
*Quiz answers, in order:
Oh my goodness/Oh my gosh/Oh my God
As soon as possible
By the way
Rolling on the floor laughing
See you later
Talk to you later
I love you
Thanks or Thank you
I don’t know
For your information
Shake my head (disapproval/frustration)
Bye for now
In my opinion or In my humble opinion
Best Friend/Boyfriend or Best Friend Forever/Boyfriend Forever
I hate you
hugs and kisses
What the hell or What the f–k?
(photos courtesy of: gizmodo.com, guysgab.com, dandygadget.com, and rightsourcemarketing.com, respectively)