i see ur a moran, lol

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 15, 2008

Filed under: Rants 179 comments

Shawn touches on a subject near and dear to my heart, which is the practice of lazy people to attempt to do business using the voice of a child. Shawn actually received an email which read thus:

can i get logo in black if not i can do that logo just let me know thank u

Now, I don’t think of myself as overly pedantic when it comes to the written word. I have typos and spelling errors on this site often enough that I have no room to criticize others. I’m not faulting people who make simple errors in the course of business correspondence. I am faulting people who can’t even be bothered to try, who communicate by staring fixedly down at the keyboard, spewing out a formless stream of words and hitting “send” without so much as a glance at what the result was.

In the last ten years or so this has been growing in popularity. Nobody ever sent me email in this condition during the early parts of my career, but in the last ten years it’s become increasingly common. What is causing this? The rise of phone-based text messaging? The educational system? Are we being infiltrated by aliens who mimic our habits in every way except that they can’t grasp the most rudimentary rules of our written word?

In my view it shows an outright contempt for the recipient if you’re not even willing to fully type out the word “you”. What kind of savings are you getting by not typing out the y-o? What are you doing with all that extra time?

In the 50’s it was common for the average office worker to wear a full suit, tie, hat, jacket, overcoat, etc. The dress code was oppressive by today’s standards. Sock suspenders were sometimes required. Now, I do not miss those days, and I see no reason to return to them. I certainly don’t think it makes sense to spend your day attempting to write software while wearing twenty pounds of heavy, starched, dry-clean-only clothing.

But the coming generation seems to regard sentence structure the way I view suit jackets in August: As a needless formality and a tiresome encumbrance. Is this what it’s going to come to? In ten years when I send an email like…

Thanks so much for the designs, Shawn. Would it be possible to change the logo to black before launch? If not we can go with what you have here.



…is my correspondence going to be laughed at, like the old guy who keeps wearing a tie when everyone else in the office is dressed in sandals and ironic t-shirts?


From The Archives:

179 thoughts on “i see ur a moran, lol

  1. Jeremiah says:

    Well if you’re going to be laughed at, I’ll be getting laughed at with you. It’s difficult to properly express my anger and annoyance at those kind of messages.

  2. Lukasa says:

    The worst thing is that students are beginning to accidentally slip into ‘text-speak’ during major pieces of written work such as essays. I really do think that it’s important to encourage people to write their sentences in complete English, especially in emails. I’ve never understood why ‘text-speak’ is used in emails, as they imply a certain length of time spent writing anyway. Why not make it presentable?

  3. Ed says:

    I’m a teacher at a rural school east of Oklahoma City. The future does not seem to hold much promise. The language that started on AIM has moved into the realm of cell phone texting. Every student I teach regardless of socio-economic status has a cell phone and they text constantly. Papers are rife with phonetic abbreviations and misspellings. Many students are incapable of understanding that their word choice is not actually a legitimate means of formal communication.

  4. Eric Meyer says:

    Yes, they’ll laugh at you, just like they will me. Hell, I’ll still be trimming quoted material and interleaving my replies instead of top-posting, which already elicits derisive laughter.

  5. Scott says:

    I can understand the abbreviations and l33t when you are gaming or texting when time is of the essence, but in a professional setting it blows my mind that people “communicate” like this.

  6. JFargo says:

    Every day I get emails that look similar to what Shawn’s business contact sent him. When it’s family or friends, I gently correct them, but what the hell am I supposed to do when it’s my boss?

  7. LazerFX says:

    I’m amazed that people get away with this sort of thing in actual business communications. We deal with customers from across 8,000 miles of distance, with many different languages. Often they have trouble making themselves fully understood in English, so it is imperative that, when we write, it is as clear as possible, so that they can understand.

    It’s not communication, it’s just laziness.

  8. Daosus says:

    Admittedly I’ve not had a lot of job experience, but when I write E-Mails, I treat them just like a letter. So far, no complaints. Honestly, it doesn’t need to be Shakespeare, nor do you have to fill the page with pointless blather. A simple, two sentence email is just fine. No one will mind being called by their name and title (or just first name) or receiving a friendly farewell. But neither of those is really necessary. The key is being able to read a message without having to decipher it.

  9. JT says:

    It’s only going to get worse as the integration between devices & formats continues. E.g., I can post a blog item by emailing a specific address; I can send a text message to a phone number from a web page; I can type a text message on my cell phone and have it emailed to an [email protected] address rather that to a phone number (maybe that’s what happened in Shawn’s case); I can fax a document to a virtual number where it will be converted to a scanned attachment in an email.

    People will start trending towards the “easiest” rather than the most proper (“Slouching towards Gomorrah” I believe is the colloquialism). I for one still use proper capitalization & punctuation in my text messages – ‘course, I’ve got a smartphone w/a QWERTY keyboard, so it would feel strange to me to do any different. I’m also lucky that I’m in an old-school company (financial services, been around since 1930 or so) that still values propriety. We use Sametime IM so in that medium the rules are a little lax but there’s still a marked difference between that and email.

  10. Mark says:

    i think ur riteing is gud u shud rite mor liek this shamus

    Sorry, it had to be done. I agree 100%. I’m sick of trying to decipher the real meaning from someone’s lazy attempt at communication. It’s like they’re missing the entire point of language: standardization. Then again, we’re programmers, Shamus. There is a certain pedantic nature that is instilled in us from the get-go. I do try not to pass the “pedantic” argument to my English-to-MarkThought compiler as often, but I still get the urge to send them the English-equivalent of a W3C compliance report.

  11. Luke Maciak says:

    Wow, this emails looks remarkably similar to the stuff that hits my mailbox every day from my students. Here are some samples.

    Sigh, I love emails that have no subject and something like this in the body:

    hello quick question for the hw 2 is it du next class

    Also, did you ever see Idiocracy? The main character – average guy, chronic under-achiever gets cryo-frozen, and wakes up in the distant future and finds out he is the smartest man alive.

    Also everyone laughs at him because he “speaks like a gay” – apparently due to the fact he articulates his words, uses full sentences, and doesn’t say “um” every other word. :P

    I think that movie, while silly over-the-top is eerily prophetic at the same time considering current trends like the one you described here.

  12. pdwalker says:

    No, you are right to be annoyed.

    It is not too much to ask to expect people to communicate properly.

    Perhaps I am getting too old, but this thing just annoys the shit out of me.

  13. Vyolynce says:

    Someone on one of the message boards I frequent has this as her current signature. I smile every time I see it.

  14. asterismW says:

    I work in the IT department of my company. The worst email I ever got was a reply to my question of what machine someone had installed Google Toolbar on (which isn’t allowed). The email, in full:

    “It was in the tent in 2300 bay but it have stayed with my hole set up thought the building”

    It took me a good five minutes to figure out what the “tent in 2300 bay” was, but I have yet to decipher “hole set up thought the building”.

    Another annoyance? People who put the entirety of their email in the subject line. Anyone who does that can expect me to ignore them for a good day, at least.

  15. Gary says:

    When I first read that in Shawn’s Livejournal, I thought that the customer was saying that he could make the logo black. That, I think, is the real problem. I can understand 1337. I don’t mind it in online RTS games (or similar venue) . But when people begin to make it so that I don’t know what the intent of their speech was… *sigh* Even idiocracy was able to get that across, even with their insane grammar idiocies.

    EDIT: I’m 20 and go to Ohio State University. And, while I have no idea how my classmates or many of my friends write emails, I always endeavor to use proper letter format when email my professors (friends a bit less so, but I still use proper grammar and spelling). All I know is that when I do that, those to whom I am sending emails respond in a similar manner.

  16. Dev Null says:

    It annoys the heck out of me too. But for an interesting serendipitous take, check out this article that was right behind yours on the feed reader Shamus:

    Instant messaging ‘a linguistic renaissance’ for teens

    I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions they’re drawing, but it amused me that they showed up together like that…

  17. Annon says:

    Maybe I’m strange, but I use proper spelling and punctuation in text messages as well. I normally have auto-complete on (which can be weird sometimes–I can’t name how many times “he” became “if” without my noticing), but still, it takes extra effort to format it right.

    I don’t really get angry at people who don’t write coherently in communicating with me, but I prefer and appreciate it if they do, and endeavor to do the same.

  18. Solka says:

    I will probably laughed at alongside you, Shamus. But I think it’s gonna be worse for me..

    ..since I’m 22.

    All my “official” emailing (ex: to college teachers, professionnals, etc..) all have the standard welcoming word, the usual ending comment (have a good day), and complete signature. I guess I’m older than my age..

    But about the message up-there. If I receive such email, I’ll be torn between outright ignoring it, or sending it back to the sender with the comment “You better rewrite this in actual english”

    @Annon: so do I. In FREAKING TEXT MESSAGE! :) Off course, I sometime use abvs, but it’s the exception rather than the norm. (luckily, I don’t get billed for every txt msg)

    @AsterismW: I don’t understand the 2300, care to translate?.. but I think that “hole set up thought the building” means “whole setup trought the ???????”

  19. Laurel Raven says:

    i can has gud english nao pleez

    Funny thing, first time I typed that, I capitolized and used proper punctuation, including a comma…then realized that comma usage is anathma to these people.

    I deal with people sending me stuff like this all the time. I’m fortunate that my boss prefers good sentence structure, proper punctuation, and so forth…sometimes, I’ll even send more important letters to him to go over to proofread for me. Then, I get things like Shamus’s example above.

    Sometimes, when it is sent by someone in a hurry on a Blackberry while driving (seems to be becoming more and more common these days) I can almost forgive it (those keyboards are inhumanly small), but I also get it from people who are sitting in chat with me, professional to professional, while I’m trying to fix a problem of theirs. Maybe the problem is that they type so slow that two letters really does make a difference? Maybe I’m being overly judgemental; that since I type much faster, I don’t understand how difficult it is for someone who types slow (no networking professional in the world has a good excuse for typing slow, however, unless they are missing a hand or have partial paralisys in one or both of their hands).


  20. Jeysie says:

    I’ve had people tell me that they don’t consider posting anywhere on the Internet important enough for proper spelling/grammar, and express incredulity that I try to type using full, proper English sentences even in IM/IRC. So I suppose I’m not entirely surprised that this sort of laziness has spilled over into the business realm as well.

    I am as disappointed as you, though. It shows a lack of respect, certainly… that someone doesn’t consider communicating with me “important” enough to make at least a token effort at proper communication. Plus, it does make them look like morons, especially since several of the people I know online with impeccable English skills are native speakers of a different language. Meanwhile, the people who do have English as a native language don’t use it properly. Oi.

    I wonder if this sort of laziness shows up in speakers of other languages?

  21. Gahaz says:

    The issue that raises its head, I think, is an interesting one. There is a fine line where text speak crosses the line. But there is also approaching that line to an extent that can be acceptable. If the structure is proper, why question shortened words?

    “lol, that sho last nite was lulz worthy! wat did u think of the dinner? nasty. w/e, c u to nite.”

    That correspondence is just dripping with text speak, but does anyone actually NOT understand what it says? The language is being altered by trends in society, and this has been going on since we were able to talk and write. When was the last time you used the word “Thou” in conversation?

    The only issue that really arises for me is the lack of structure. I can easily get over the text (or txt) speak, but not the lack of any kind of sentence structure, and thats the issue with the email you have posted. I understand the degrading of proper grammar of the younger generation coming up behind us, but is it really degenerating? They will replace us, and in so doing change things to fit themselves. Degeneration is the wrong word, its an evolution of the language that seems odd and strange to us.

    If an English speaker from the 18th century popped into our society today he would be lost.

  22. ebede says:

    I’ve been a rather silent reader. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and comic creations. I understand the pain that instant messaging is bringing to many of our eyes. But when you mentioned that everyone would laugh at you. I just couldn’t resist. They won’t be laughing at you or me or anyone else. They will be..


  23. Laurel Raven says:

    Was reading the article posted by Dev Null (love the name, by the way), when I came across this line:

    “He and Tagliamonte analysed more than a million words of IM communications and a quarter of a million spoken words produced by 72 people aged between 15 and 20.”

    All I could think was “How in the hell did they stay SANE?!” I’ve seen what teens come up with in IMs and it ain’t pretty! That’s not even factoring in the weird, contrasting, eye-bleeding colors they often use.

  24. Phil says:

    “It's like they're missing the entire point of language: standardization.”

    Uh, no. The entire point of language is communication. Standardization is an important tool to help achieve that goal, but it is not the goal itself.

  25. wintermute says:

    I have a stock reply that I sue in these cases:

    Sir / Madam,
    I’m afraid that I’m unable to read your email. I can only suggest that you find someone literate to translate it into English, and re-send it to me.

    I look forward to finding out what you were trying to say,

    More often than not, people comply. But a small number have been offended, so you might want to use caution, if these are coming from your boss / biggest client / spouse.

  26. Oleyo says:

    My main annoyance isn’t even with shortened speech like “u” for you, or misspellings. We have an amazing ability to understand words that have been horribly mangled. What I hate most is when people just dive headlong into that formless string of words you described, without any form of context or introduction, or dare I say, pleasantries?

    As if we are there inside their head completely aware of why they are speaking with us and what they want to accomplish. It is just plain selfish and rude not to wonder how the text will look to someone who isn’t, you know…you.

    Imagine walking up behind some random person on the street, tapping them on the shoulder and immediately launching into a rambling monologue.

    Who IS this person?!

    WHY are you speaking to me?!

    WHAT do you WANT?!


    Oh man this makes me angry. Serenity now…

  27. Robert says:

    u r lam u just dont get the young pepl we hav betr things 2 do!

  28. Robert says:

    Ooh, on second thought I see I’ve betrayed my faux-l33t status by actually spelling out two of the long words.

  29. Telas says:

    While language will evolve (always has; always will), to claim that laziness on the part of the speaker is “evolution” is plain silly. If you can’t be bothered to type actual vowels, I should’t be bothered to read or even reply. If someone sent me that message out of the blue, I’d ignore them or reply, “Can you put that in the form of a paragraph?”

    Worse, this kind of thing is downright rude. By contracting every possible word, you’re saving yourself a bit of work, but you’re also forcing me to do more work to translate it into English. It’s like sending me your resume via COD.

    The solution? “You know, when you do that l33t 5p33k thing, it kinda makes you look like a teenager, and not in a good way.”

  30. GregB says:

    Maybe we are slowly changing English into another language that uses symbols that represent sounds like Japanese/Chinese and other such languages. Then, once we have reached that point, we will devolve into a system of grunts and outbursts. Maybe its for the best.

    @Oleyo > I remember seeing something on the net that was some sort of test where the first and last letters of the words were correct, but the rest were misplaced. It was amazing that the human brain can figure out what the word is just by seeing what the first and last letters are and how many letters are in the word. I wish I could find it again.

  31. Solka says:

    you should have written: u r lam, d’t get the yg ppl, we hav betr thgs 2 do!

  32. baac says:

    I’m the editor of a magazine, and a few months back I had a girl approach me for an internship through an email constructed entirely like the example you provided. Seriously – you want a job on an international print masthead, and you can’t spell or use punctuation?!?

    I wrote back saying that, with luck, one day she’d be able to get a job and afford that punctuation she’s always wanted. I never heard back from her.


  33. onosson says:

    You can’t really fault kids for this situation. They are only after one thing – to find their place in society. The society they find themselves in is rife with texting, so they naturally learn the skill, and indeed excel at it far better than any adult could hope to.

    I think what we need to understand about language is that is not so much consciously learned, as unconsciously absorbed. When the form of written language they predominantly encounter (in terms of frequency) is texting, then that is the form they will master.

    I don’t doubt very much that those who enter fields where it is really necessary to master formal English spelling and grammar will learn it, and excel at it in just the same way. What we need to understand is that, however obscure it may seem, texting is not random and without rules and form. Take Shamus’ example from the post:

    “can i get logo in black if not i can do that logo just let me know thank u”

    All that is really missing from this, in terms of formal standard English, is punctuation, capitalization, the word “the”, and the full spelling of “you”:

    Can I get the logo in black? If not I can do that logo. Just let me know. Thank you.

    I agree that it is disconcerting to find this coming from someone trying to DO BUSINESS, but also keep in mind that many other standard written languages do just fine without capitalization, punctuation, or articles (“the” and “a/an”).

  34. onosson says:


    Some would argue that the entire point of language is self- and group-identification… communication, and subsequent standardization, are just byproducts.

  35. Melfina the Blue says:

    Oh my god.
    *begin rant*
    Stop murdering my language, you plebeian imbeciles! Go find another one to do horrible things to!
    *end rant*
    I feel much better now. Cleansed. Now, if I could just convince the help desk that I do not understand tickets that start with plz need d co serial

  36. Shawn says:

    The worst part about that email was the guy who sent it to me is in his 40s. And the entire thing was bold and huge.

  37. Shandrunn says:

    I always try to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. It’s a matter of personal pride for me. Whenever I make a mistake and don’t spot it in time to fix it, I feel terrible because I must look like an idiot.

  38. Gahaz says:


    To you, it feels rude, and in certain scenarios it is. But its a movement of the written word. You can’t stop it. They are going to out live all of us, and will win. In a professional situation it is inappropriate, in an unstructured sentence it is. But you can’t win, so please feel disappointment, but please take away your bold rudes and what not. If someone sends you a social email that contains such literation and you respond with a “Please fix your grammar” then you are a sh*tty friend. If you are a human resource manager and deal with email resumes, of course junk any that use txt speak.

    Why people become offended at online correspondence, at a social/discussion level, containing “txt speak” is really frustrating. If you are in a forum discussing how relevant the newest Harry potter book is, get over it. It drives me insane when in social forums and whatnot people will chastise people for their improper grammar.

    “Maybe we are slowly changing English into another language that uses symbols that represent sounds like Japanese/Chinese and other such languages. Then, once we have reached that point, we will devolve into a system of grunts and outbursts. Maybe its for the best.”

    But we are not discussing pronunciation. Very little of this spills into actual conversation (contrary to what goofy phone commercials would lead you to think). We are talking about social interaction over our new online/phone medium.
    Is it going to be taught in schools? No, of course not. Is it going to be more recognized as time moves on? yes, and people will complain less and less. No one will be mocked for using proper English, but they will be in a minority. And you can claim to be better than others by using it, but no one will care.

    Even Luke Maciak, who seems to be a teacher of some sort, included a smiley in his post up there, and on his blog post used btw.

  39. wintermute says:

    The paragraph you remember was very carefully crafted to still be easy to read. Some information here, but I remember a far more detailed analysis, somewhere…

  40. Matt` says:

    I mostly aim for precision, clarity and good flow. To that end typos get fixed, punctuation gets used and for God’s sake I’m not dropping vowels out just to save myself a key-press.

    If I wanted to sound retarded, I cud typ lk ts, but as has been stated it just adds a burden to the recipient to figure out what in hell’s name I was trying to say.

    Spelling and grammar can evolve, it’s when the language starts to fall apart into a mess of concepts that it really bugs me – ambiguity may not be unavoidable all the time, but a comma or full stop in the right place can clear up a lot of things.

    Actually I lie, typos bug me too. I just can’t help but notice the little errors.

    (NB I’m 17)

  41. Telas says:

    Onosson @ 33: You can't really fault kids for this situation.

    Yes you can; they’re the ones typing this atrocious stuff. They’ve certainly been exposed to proper English at some point in their short lives, and were certainly given the opportunity and incentive to learn it.

    We can definitely help by pointing out that it’s not appropriate behavior outside of actual text messaging, but we can’t type their emails for them.

    I’m 41, very well educated, and have a wide range of life experience (blue collar, white collar, military, travel, etc). The more I see of this world and the people in it, the less I buy the “blame society” line.

  42. Sandrinnad says:

    That sort of thing in anything but extremely informal correspondence drives me in-freakin’-sane.

    Email is ambiguous enough to start with because there’s no other cues – no tone of voice, no body language – so the language needs to be as precise as possible to make the meaning clear. That’s why they tell you not to use industry jargon with clients and why some rather nasty arguments get started via email. (and why some people overuse smilies :D )

    (aside – the 18th century person wouldn’t be completely lost. They wouldn’t have the same cultural references, and the meanings of some words have changed and new ones have been added, but the language itself hasn’t changed that much since then.)

  43. Julian says:

    One possibility to consider is that things aren’t getting any worse. Fifteen years ago, we could have had just as many people who communicated lazily and badly, but they weren’t using any kind of written communication at all.

  44. Gary says:

    @ Gahaz
    “But we are not discussing pronunciation. Very little of this spills into actual conversation (contrary to what goofy phone commercials would lead you to think).”
    I’m sorry, but this is wrong. A few years back a cell phone company (Motorola, I think) began their walkie talkie promotion with the tag line “where’re you at?” Now I hear that constantly, and I HATE it because of that dangling preposition. This especially annoys me because it is actually SHORTER to make it grammatically correct. All you have to do is get rid of the “at.”

    (quick aside: How do I use bold in Shamus’s comments?)

  45. Gahaz says:


    “Yes you can; they're the ones typing this atrocious stuff. They've certainly been exposed to proper English at some point in their short lives, and were certainly given the opportunity and incentive to learn it.”

    You really are bitter aren’t you? Did some txt speak escape and bite you?

    “We can definitely help by pointing out that it's not appropriate behavior outside of actual text messaging, but we can't type their emails for them.”

    Social emails and online correspondence lower than professional correspondence is fair game really. If friends, family and contacts can easily read it, why is there an issue?

    “I'm 41, very well educated, and have a wide range of life experience (blue collar, white collar, military, travel, etc). The more I see of this world and the people in it, the less I buy the “blame society” line.”

    And now we get to the base of it. Here is a prime example of classic internet weaponry, the “See my credentials for why I am right”. Even to take what you say at face level, which is always hard on the interwebs, what you are saying to any who read it is “Im right because I’m older and more well educated than them or you. See, my resume states that I am right.” The language that gets thrown around does not belong to anyone. Its a product of the society, not by the rules you believe need to be followed.

    Why does it offend you so much? In a business setting its really out of place. In a social setting its becoming completely acceptable. I really do believe they know that its improper, but use because its “their” way of doing things.


    Blame Hip-Hop for the “where you at” thing. Thta was a line used by the rapper “can’t remember his name” that they originally had pushing it.

  46. General Karthos says:

    I am a on the leading edge of the “coming generation” or perhaps on the trailing edge of the “generation that preceded it” (I turned 20 earlier this year) and the same stuff that annoys you, annoys me. I am what some would call a “grammar nazi”, and these messages annoy me intensely. Even when text messaging I use complete sentences, proper punctuation and perfect grammar/spelling. I ignore errors in other people so long as their messages are worth reading and are still legible.

    I put up with “u” and “c” in text messages only from my girlfriend, and even then it still causes a twinge of pain when I get a message from her that uses either of those letters in place of words. Even then, she’s not nearly so bad as those you describe (and some I have met) in that she writes in complete sentences in e-mail and so forth.

    I’ll admit that I look at the slow painful demise of the English language with something akin to unhappiness. Frankly, as a student of languages, I find English to be among one of the more beautiful and elegant languages on Earth, though it is surely one of the more difficult to learn.

    Oh, and if you want illiteracy, go to just about any forum on the internet. The larger it is, the greater the proportion of people who have never learned how to write properly. *Shudders* I avoid almost all forums like the plague. Even when I find a good one it takes me as much as a year before I will even register and put up a comment….

  47. Dirty Dan says:


    22 years old here, writing tutor at my university and future Latin teacher, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

    To address the use of “text-speak” in inappropriate situations, I proffer a blog that I once wrote:

    So I’m driving to work today when I see a sign at some random store on the side of the road; you know the kind of sign I’m talking about: those removeable block letters and such. Here’s what it said: “U WILL BE MISSED SGT DANIEL”. Even I can forgive the all caps, since I’m sure they didn’t have lower case. And I could see that “YOU WILL” could not have fit on that first line (it was somewhat of a narrow sign), so I’ll grant that something needed to be contracted. But that’s why we have actual contractions. You know, those zany word-like constructions with only parts of a word (or words) and some kind of wacky upside-down comma denoting where words have been taken out? No? *smack* Then go back to elementary school.

    Naturally, I can understand this failing on the part of the sign-composer if the collection of characters consisted of only alphanumeric symbols and no punctuation. In that case, I place the blame on the dumb*ss who bought a bunch of letters and numbers without any ****ing punctuation, since punctuation is essential to meaning. If you don’t believe me, read:

    so im driving to work today when i see a sign at some random store on the side of the road you know the kind of sign im talking about those removeable block letters and such heres what it said U WILL BE MISSED SGT DANIEL even i can forgive the all caps since im sure they didnt have lower case and i could see that YOU WILL could not have fit on that first line it was somewhat of a narrow sign so ill grant that something needed to be contracted but thats why we have actual contractions you know those zany word like constructions with only parts of a word or words and some kind of wacky upside down comma denoting where words have been taken out no smack then go back to elementary school

    Now, if you managed to actually read through all that nonsense and aren’t pissed off at it by now, stop reading my weblog. You won’t get it. So get back to work at [nonspecific unskilled labor position], because if you get fired from that you’re pretty ****ed.

    I don’t know about Sarge, but if that were me somehow, I’d be haunting that son of a b***h out of his mind.

    Now, to address the question of linguistic evolution, I offer this threat: it has been traditional to resist the relentless march of language. The advent of modern linguistics has led many professionals to be more lax about non-traditional constructions in language, because language is going to change no matter what we do. I agree with that last point, but I think that by making an effort we can slow down this change. And it is indeed significant to make this change as slow as possible.

    That’s because, throughout the history of English as a distinct language, there are only about 5 centuries that we can understand as it was first written. Anything older than that literally has to be translated before modern speakers can understand it. Yes, it is the nature of language that inefficient mechanisms will be rendered more efficient. But if we resist their acceptance, then it will be longer before they become mainstream. Once the “new language” becomes mainstream, it is only a matter of time before the “old language” is forgotten. And when that happens, the “old language” requires translation to be understood — effectively creating a barrier between old and new, across which only dedicated scholars can comprehend subtleties. How long before Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are the next Beowulf (“Hwà¦t! WÄ“ Gār”Dena “¢ in geār”dagum / à¾Ä“od”cyninga “¢ à¾rym gefrÅ«non, / hÅ« à¾Ä à¦à°elingas “¢ ellen fremedon.”) and Canterbury Tales (“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote / And bathed every veyne in swich licour, / Of which vertu engendred is the flour;….”)?

  48. Dave says:

    I’m compelled to link to this comic by Lore Sjoberg, of Lore Brand Comics (and lately, Slumbering Lungfish and Wired). Says it all, really.

  49. Lain says:

    At first: I’m German, English is not my motherlanguage. I don’t have much practice in writing though I’m reading a lot.

    Sometimes I’m playing a little poker without real money.

    From a chat:
    “Ben”: “I’d a str8 like u 2.”
    “Sanchez”, a portoguese: “Please write in English”
    “Ben”: “I ain’t no good in English”
    Myself: “…then you must be American”
    “Ben”: “Yes.”
    Myself: “Ok…”

    After two cards he was gone.

    Sorry, people, but that one was obvious. But to be fair: Here in Germany the younger generation also have more and more problems with education. A lot of companies looking desperate for -> acceptable <- educated young peoples. With all tolerance for small mistakes within fastwritten letters: There are Masters of business administration, who can't calculate... and Masters of Law, who can't write a letter. It's a shame.

  50. Luke Maciak says:

    @Gahaz – Yes, it’s true – I use abbreviations such as btw, lol or wtf in casual settings such as my blog, or this place. I try to avoid them in official correspondence.

    Also, I don’t mind abbreviations such as btw or fyi in business related emails. As long as I can understand the message, and I don’t have to make a conscious effort to read it I’m fine. I teach an introductory computer class so even if I see this sort of grammar in homeworks and papers I just let it go.

    What I hate is the stream of consciousness thing – with it’s absolute lack of punctuation, structure and excessive abbreviation to the point where the whole thing is hard to read. After all, capitalization and punctuation is often the key. Compare:

    i helped my uncle jack off a horse

    I helped my uncle Jack, off a horse.

    Makes a world of difference.

  51. Gahaz says:

    Dirty Dan,

    Goodness, what a conflicting impression you put forth. Your web-log post makes you sound like a complete and utter @sshole, yet your over-all post here sounds like an educated individual curious, and a little apprehensive, of the shifting of the language. Even know the actual Lord of the Rings books are becoming close to it. I love them and read them on a regular basis (what real nerd doesn’t), but already some of the younger generation I talk to say they have seen the movies and “tried” to read the books. I always thought they were written in English…

  52. baac says:

    Hmmm… I’m not sure I’m swayed by the ‘evolving language’ theory. I think some of the cache of using language in this way comes from the fact that everyone over the age of 30 will have a hard time understanding it. It’s meant to be as exclusionary as it is efficient.

    To speak to some of the things Gahaz raises, I think the annoyance comes from a generational misunderstanding. You think Telas is imposing artificial rules, but for most people our age, it’s a huge sign of disrespect for people to try to communicate this way. To our generation, it’s basically saying: ‘I can’t be bothered. You’re not worth it.’ Generational misunderstandings work both ways… Neither generation likes it much when the wrong rules get applied.

  53. mistergreen says:

    I blame that on his age then. My father sends me e-mails the same way. Spelling was never his strong point. For punishments he used to mark pages in the dictionary and told me to copy each word there five times each. Once he used a medical dictionary, man that was harsh and I learned more then I really cared to from that one.

  54. Zukhramm says:

    Shortenings, contractions, skipping words. Sure! I can read that. I don’t like it, but I can read it. However, when you throw grammar and punctuation out the window I give up.

    If I don’t know where sentences ends I won’t be able to make much sence of some pieces of text. And if it doesn’t end with a question mark, how should I know it’s a question?!

    And the lack of question marks seems to affect how people read my writing aswell. People sometimes seem to answer my statements ended with a dot as a question, and answer something I didn’t even ask.

  55. Ian says:

    god u ned to stfu samus let ppl tipe how they wont u lamer fagot

    *shoots self*

    “Netspeak” needs to die, pronto.

  56. Gahaz says:

    I think people miss what i defend. Its the abreveations and txt words that can be approved and understood. If your just substituting words and using word stand ins then the hoopla is just nit picking. I still believe in sentence structure though. I said that in my first post up there somewhere.

    “I h8 u all. Wen u r rdy to talk, dont bother.”

    “I h8 u all wen ur rdy 2 talk don’t bother.”

    It seems juvenile to some, but its still there, and its not going away. Not to long ago “cool” was just a word used by teenagers….

    Dirty Dan, your edit was hilarious…

  57. Jez says:

    It’s like the song from one Strong Bad Email. “I don’t care how you spell things on the rest of the internet, but when you email me, you spell the whole damn word!”

    That sort of abbreviation is perhaps forgivable in a text message or online game, but in an actual business environment it’s shocking. It’s like table manners or dressing neatly, you’re showing that you have a baseline level of respect for the people you interact with.

    Typing like that in an email makes it harder, not easier, for everyone. The recipient will take longer to fully understand, and may even misinterpret, or may be so insulted as to not respond at all. Type it out properly the first time.

  58. Hal says:

    Hoo boy.

    When I taught freshman chemistry as a TA, I was left in the sad position of grading lab reports by the doe-eyed 18 year olds. Many of them were very intelligent, and have probably continued to excel in academia. Many were lazy, unwilling to put the work into the course that it required.

    And then there were those who thought like the writer of said email above.

    I always graded those poorly. Science is screwed if your scientists can’t share their findings in a coherent and understandable manner. The whining was always epic. “This is chemistry, not an english class,” I would hear. “Yes, but english is the preferred medium for communication in this class. Your job on these assignments is to convince me you understand the science behind what you did in lab. If you can’t write in clear english, then how do I know you’re thinking clearly?”

    They never liked hearing that. If the professors and teachers ever give in on that topic, society as we know it is doomed.

  59. Nova says:

    Canterbury tales? A step back from Shakespeare, sure, but still accessible by a sixteen year old (moi) with a little help. Once the hang of the language is got, then it’s little or no problem; it’s the cultural specifics that get you x__X You can understand them with some assistance, but it does take work.
    Beowulf? Totally unreadable. Difference between middle and old english. ‘course, the Canterbury tales is about five hundred years old, and was written during the formalisation of the english language when it was set down in writing, whereas Beowulf is a completely foreign culture about a thousand years ago.
    My point is, that until about the sixteen hundreds (I *could* be wrong on this one, but I believe it is about that point), there wasn’t really any formalised spelling or grammatical rules; people wrote things how they thought they were said – hence the many different spellings of Shakespeare’s name.
    What we are seeing here is in part a return to that – people are using utterly basic english to communicate as quickly as possible in a new digital format. So long as the person they are attempting to communicate with understands, why do they mind? Think of it perhaps as the way latin died out – it was still used for learned writings (think, say, an essay), but no longer was it every day speech. Eventually, it became a language which nobody spoke, and very few could read or write.
    Whilst this change in English is perhaps inevitable, I may be exaggerating; it is unlikely English will die in this form as a written language, although it may well do as a spoken one – I recently read an article which talked about english speakers in, say, Malaysia. It’s a common language which they can use to communicate, but we wouldn’t understand it, it’s so altered by their needs.

  60. Dirty Dan says:

    It’s probably the abundance of swearing and sarcasm. My blogs are largely intended for my personal friends moreso than than the general public, though I’d hardly condescend to call Shamus’ audience “the general public”. It was possibly also the general rage that someone was “honoring” or “paying respects to” a dead soldier by abbreviating “you” to “u”.

    As a side note, here’s my recollection of a humorous one-panel comic that’s posted in the writing center where I work:

    “I’ve returned this otherwise perfectly good typing paper from you because someone has printed jibberish all over it and signed your name.”

    The Writing Center: protecting typing paper from injurious jibberish.

  61. Jeff says:

    Whenever I make a mistake and don't spot it in time to fix it, I feel terrible because I must look like an idiot.
    Same here.

  62. kmc says:

    It seems there are two problems here. One is the shortening and otherwise adulteration of words, and one is the nonsensical grammar which might be aided by the unfortunately absent punctuation. I agree that grammar should be precise, because if you can’t think clearly about the words coming out of your mouth and the order in which they belong, I’m unlikely to trust whatever idea you’re trying to convey by haphazardly stringing those words together.
    The text speech is, to me, simply a different way to communicate. If I’m going to lunch, I might e-mail my boyfriend, “I’m going to lunch; I’ll see you later.” But if I’m in a really good mood, or I want to reference a joke between the two of us, I might say “goin’ 2 lunch, brb! ^.^” Yes. It’s text speak. Would I send it to my boss or coworkers? *insert derisive sneer* Pfft. No. The people who do this are the same people who don’t know how not to cuss in front of their grandmothers. Old phenomenon, new face.
    My credentials? Engineer, former military officer, 26-year-old female with a lot of similarly-aged Japanese friends. v(^.^)

  63. Terrible says:

    I don’t know if it saves time to write that way, but it takes me longer to read it and garner understanding of it.

  64. Cadamar says:

    I’m with you, Shamus.
    Defenders of the English language unite!

    I insist on using full sentences and proper punctuation even when I’m chatting in an MMORPG and I outright refuse to use text messaging until I acquire a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard.

  65. Jeff says:

    But that's why we have actual contractions.
    I think it’s worth pointing out that “U WILL” (6 characters, including the space) and “YOU’LL” (6 characters, including the ‘) are the same length.

    Also, it is not, in fact, acceptable. Future generations will not be spewing this garbage, because all professional jobs like Engineers where clarity of communication is necessary will speak and write actual English. From first year onwards, Engineers are already taught ‘professional conduct’ classes, heck, they even teach you how to properly write alphanumeric characters for clarity. Doctors and other medical professionals also undergo professional conduct classes – you’ll be hard pressed to find someone willing to speak or write like an idiot while wearing a suit and tie. This actually also extends to soldiers, or at least officers and NCOs – while rife with acronyms and military specific terms, communications are still very precise. A report to yoru superiors could be full of acronyms, but it won’t be full of the junk we’re discussing here.

    It may be fine for your friends, but it’s a direct reflection of who we’re speaking to. If you respect someone, you write respectfully. I respond to my friends in full sentances, and now they do too, without me having prompted them at any point. It became a matter of self-consciousness.

  66. Derek K says:

    I too am a prude when it comes to language. I get in huge, knock-down, drag-out fights with some of my friends, who use the “evolution of language” argument on me, then attempt to draw parallels to things like Dante writing the Inferno in “the vernacular.”

    It doesn’t work. Because I agree – language is evolving. And it is the duty of those that respect it to help guide that evolution. It is my *duty* as a lover of language to kavitch about things like “lol u suk lol lol.” Because if I don’t, who will?

    I see a lot of responses like gahaz: If you can read it, why do you care?

    Because I believe in a quality of life, an enjoyment of language, and because, quite literally, all I know of people online is what I read. If I read “u no whut i mean idot jst stop b’in so dum,” I assume that you are of lower intellect, or have very little respect for your audience. May be valid, may be incorrect. All I know of you is that sentence.

    To me, allowing text speak in normal conversation is equivalent to the food pills on the Jetsons. Sure, you can get a whole meal by taking a single pill. But what’s the point? There is value in the act of eating, the socialization of the meal, and in the taste, texture and enjoyment of the food.

    Would I take a pill vs eating a $1 cheeseburger? Probably. Instead of getting a Chicago style hot dog with cheese fries? Hell no.

  67. Gahaz says:

    Yep Jeff. I mean of course your right. You are so much better than them.

    Lord no! You misspelled “your” in your post…society collapses.

  68. Gahaz says:

    I know Derek, just as you say.

    Your such a better person than those that use stand-ins for words because its used by those they know and a large portion of the population.

  69. Jeff says:

    I just looked at that article linked above, regarding communications over IM…

    9 out of 10 actually prefer “you” over “u”.

    So the collective opinion (with the exception of Gahaz) that “u” is stupid stand, even amongst the teens doing the IMing. ;)

    I thought you intentionally did it as I had typo’d “your”, but you did it to Derek too…

    You’re = You are.
    You’re != Your.

    BTW, I’d like to state that I do use BRB, LOL, TTYL, and all that sort of jazz semi-regularly. I wouldn’t do it in any semi-formal communications, however, nor would I defend it just because I use it out of some mistaken sense of “I do it, therefore it’s right.”

  70. Gahaz says:

    Shamus I can jive with. His argument against any txt speak is that he doesn’t get it, but wishes at least for grammar and that it has no place in a professional setting. This is exactly as I see it. Its strange and weird but if you can read it, you can read it. No, it has absolutely no place in a business setting. Nor in an educational paper, term or otherwise. In a social setting why does it matter, they want to write like that, why try and impose in a setting that has no ramifications?

    Its the ppl like those that keep responding that come to their argument from the other direction than Shamus that I can’t stand…

    “I am a fine purveyor of languages, a student of English, older and well learned. I believe in a world of proper grammar because anything else shows me your lower intellect than mine.” This kind of person is pretentious. They come at the debate with the “I’m right because I’m right” attitude.

  71. DocTwisted says:

    I’ve noticed the increasing plague of this “stylistic form” (to use the literary term) in online communications… not just in email, but on Instant Messaging, chats (especially MMO chats), and even in forums. There have been times in the past where I’ve started conversations with new potential friends, and wound up blocking or ignoring them because their netspeak or textspeak was so rampant I was having difficulty decipering the meaning.

    Now if they’re slow typists, or if they’re dyslexic and really are horrid spellers, there’s leniency… one of my best friends is a brilliant guy but has dyslexia that makes proper spelling too difficult for him. But the rest of the population… I usually chalk it up to stark laziness.

  72. Gahaz says:

    Awesome Jeff, thanks for proving my point! You really are the kind of person that trolls comments and forums to knock people down over grammar. No actual point just “You are wrong because of the way you type”.

    It makes yeah feel good huh.

    Its fine really. There does seem to be a large population of folks that comment around here that are rather high on themselves. Shamus is a lovely example of an intellectual that is also a normal and up standing human being. I’m done, I really am.

    I was trying to defend a side of a growing culture. That all txt speak is not of the devil. I was the only one that could put down the dictionary, slide the thesaurus aside and admit that in the end its not that bad within limits.

  73. Telas says:

    Thanks for making it personal, Gahaz. You’ve done far more for my argument (which you haven’t quite restated accurately) than I ever could have. ;)

    My argument, in a nutshell: The use of unnecessary contractions and the lack of punctuation, in media that does not require them, is simply a transfer of effort from the sender to the receiver, and strongly implies a lack of respect.

    I referenced my age and such simply to show that I’ve been around the block a few times, and have some experience behind my opinions, not merely to brag.

  74. guy says:

    Well, I don’t use leet speak, except somtimes in IRC, and then not very much. however, through a complicated series of events, involving a bad teaching method, occupational therapy, and the Microsoft Word grammer checker, i really am noth that good at grammer, and even if i notice them, i usually can’t be bothered to fix them. My ADHD does not help either. oh, and E-mail is for old people and weridos like me now.

    Also, the people i associte with on IRC are pretty good about grammer, though line breaks are often used instead of punctuation.

  75. Christian Groff says:

    I understand where you are getting at, Shamus. I admit I have typed stuff like “LOL” and “n00b”, but if I got a comment on my YouTube channel with half baked grammar and half-words, I’d immediately get the message “nerdy fan” and block the commentor. I got flamed a lot when I started writing fanfic because for the longest time, I’d leave the space out after the comma! ^_^

    I guess I’m lucky my dad cracked the whip whenever I got bad grades in writing at school because otherwise I’d be just like those “n00b geekz.”

  76. Jeff says:

    In a social setting why does it matter, they want to write like that, why try and impose in a setting that has no ramifications?

    A Sergeant was once asked (back office job, never see public, never see senior officers. Comms, iirc. Something like the same half-dozen people in the same room all the time.) “Sarge, why are we always dressed like this when it’s just us?”
    “Dress professional, act professional. Dress sloppy, act sloppy.”

    If it’s over a phone text message, I have no problem with it. Over e-mail, there’s no excuse. As Shamus said, it’s the implication that you’re not worth the time for the sender to type “yo” in addition to the “u”.

    As for me, personally, I never impose anything. I merely use correct grammar and spelling. What I observe is that those around me, without me pointing out sentance structure, start doing the same. As I strive to use correct grammar in conversation as well, and sometimes correct myself, I’ve noticed those around me start paying more attention to how they say something as well. Acknowledgement that being considered well-spoken remains desired amongst the young.

    That article remains interesting, anyhow.

    […] line breaks are often used instead of punctuation.
    Man, I am so guilty of that.
    I tend to treat IRC as real-time conversations, so rather than a comma (denoting a pause or a breath), I actually pause a moment, then continue on the next line. :P

  77. Zaghadka says:

    I think all it indicates is that the person sending the message to you doesn’t understand what you value, which seems to be semantics and syntax.

    You’re a programmer, I would expect nothing less.

    Otherwise, get over it. If you can understand the message enough to write a verbose translation, then there’s no point in looking at the younger generation’s methods with contempt, as tempting as it may be. Chances are, they have other things to offer that aren’t worth discarding over such a superficial issue.

    You may even be able to get a job as a translator!

    It’s absolutely because of phones. Typing y-o-u on a phone is eight key presses ‘9,9,9,6,6,6,8,8.’ Typing “u” is two. After a while, you start to think that way.

    Now, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” there was no explanation or justification for that.

  78. Mari says:

    It’s really a matter of situational language. What made Shawn’s example appalling is the fact that very informal language was used in a business (formal) situation. Even then, we could accept it as a youthful mistake because the young are often unable to distinguish between formal and informal situations, except for the fact that we know via Shawn that this was a middle-aged man.

    If you think about it, though, a great deal of our language is situational. How many of us drop f-bombs at work? We don’t do it because that sort of language isn’t appropriate in a formal situation. But many people who wouldn’t dream of doing so in the boss’s hearing are just fine with dropping f-bombs when they’re at the bar hanging with friends. Situational language. How many of us (especially those from the rural south) have found ‘ain’t’ creeping into our casual conversations with friends despite the fact that we hate the word and know it’s slang? Situational language.

    Ease of communication, however, has started breaking down situational barriers. The result is IRC-speak in business e-mails and term papers that read like long text messages. As an affirmed language buff, I don’t bother to comment on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of evolving language (and language does evolve) but I tremendously enjoy observing it.

  79. Mordaedil says:

    You people need to read more fan-fiction.

  80. Mordaedil says:

    You have not been reading enough fan-fiction.

  81. Jeysie says:

    Personally, I have no problems with looking at this method of communication with contempt. Why? Because it’s borne from laziness, something which I have had many people admit to me when the topic arises. If someone is too lazy to communicate in a clear and precise manner, then I see no proof they won’t be equally lazy in other aspects of their life.

    I also find it hard to classify Netspeak as actual language evolution for the same reason. These are not deliberate changes made to vocabulary in the manner of slang and jargon, they are changes made because people are becoming too lazy or hurried to take the time to try to spell and structure their sentences properly.

    (I guess a case could be made that the degrading of the English language is a symbol of other aspects of life also becoming lazier, and with less pride and concern in doing things right. In which case, I weep.)

  82. Davesnot says:

    u r idiot no time 4 if u no wut I mean i no fix need.

    thx 4 lol good 1

    Now… I know I sound like the guy with the tie looks when trying to mock the casual dresser. I just can’t seem to mimic the way they write. Cest la vie.

  83. Jeff says:


    Wait, am I no longer a part of the younger generation? I’m only 24…
    The people I hang around and are talking about range from 19-24.
    I also regularly deal with high school kids as a tutor, but that may be skewed as they’re voluntarily getting tutoring, so…

    I have to comment on this, though:
    Typing y-o-u on a phone is eight key presses “˜9,9,9,6,6,6,8,8.' Typing “u” is two. After a while, you start to think that way.
    This is very true, and is an exceptionally valid excuse. If this was true for me, I’d type ‘u’ as well. However, with today’s phones, pretty much every phone has context sensitive word completion. For “you”, I just tap 9-6.
    9-6-8-1 gives me “you’re”.
    The phone I’m talking about is the first generation RAZR, from May ’05.
    Actually, given that most phones have this now, typing ‘u’ is probably more effort than ‘you’, as word completion would go bonkers. Hm.

  84. McNutcase says:

    Jeff/83: my current phone also has word completion, although using a different system; it has good points (it actually allows me to use proper English easily) and bad (for reasons unclear, the makers decided that such things as “l8r” are words…)

    I generally find a refusal to use English when capable thereof to be insulting. If someone is so contemptuous of me as to not even consider it worth communicating clearly with me, I see no reason to consider whatever arguments they may make as worthy of consideration.

    Unclear communications are a sign of contempt for the target. Contempt breeds contempt. Let’s be nicer to one another, please?

  85. Robert says:

    “lol, that sho last nite was lulz worthy! wat did u think of the dinner? nasty. w/e, c u to nite.”

    lol? A nickname?

    That show last night was -something- worthy. — No idea if this means it is good or bad. What does “lulz” (or “lulz worthy”) mean?

    What did you think of the dinner? Nasty. — This is pretty obvious, unless “nasty” actually means “good” (in the same way that “sick” apparently means “good” now.)

    w/e — no idea

    c u to nite — See you tonight. Although I have no idea why “tonight” becomes “to nite”, as it doesn’t save any letters.

  86. scragar says:

    I don’t mind the txt speech, provided it actually makes sense when I read it, nothing worse than receiving a message that it then takes you 20 minutes to decipher.
    I have a habit of receiving such emails or SMS messages from time to time, the reply to which is almost certainly:
    “I don’t understand what your last [email/message] said, any chance you could elaborate?”
    Which with any luck would return English, if not I tend to archive such conversations under the “gibberish” label on gmail and completely ignore it, if I get asked about such an email I just point out that I couldn’t understand it, and that requests for it to be explained were ignored(I haven’t been told of for this yet, and my boss has received at least 3 complaints about emails being ignored).

    @ message above, w/e = whatever, although I never fully understood why, no idea’s about the rest of the message though, good look figuring it out.

  87. Gahaz says:


    Your small story fails to disprove or change my opinion, I get the feeling that the people that keep coming back to tell me how wrong I am are missing something. I have not said that we should accept it in anything more than a social grace. You are emailing a friend, a family member that is online savvy, a contact that you know through the net. These are all times that netspeak/txt speak/leet speak, whatever you wish to call it, is perfectly acceptable. You should not try to correct a friend just because he feels that you are both on casual enough terms to not type up a letter of an email with complete grammar/punctuation/structure rules. you will not retain those friends for long. The other side of this is that in a professional setting this has no bearing. You should not, ever, use it for business of any kind. I’m gonna say that again.

    The other side of this is that in a professional setting this has no bearing. You should not, ever, use it for business of any kind. I’m gonna say that again.

    In your “example” you are dressed in your normal business attire because, shockingly, its still business in the back. When you get home and email your friend in Oklahoma about some cool movie you saw the previous night, it should not require it being typed up like a letter to your accountant.

    Btw (ha ha), what makes a person sound pretentious in writing things on the web is a constant reference to yourself and how that makes you better. You refer to yourself about 14 times in your posts so far today. You may not be trying to appear that way, but in the land of letters and no personal inflection, more so in one were everything needs to be written out like a term paper, the more you sound like an over-arching elitist scowling at everyone else.

    PS: Hope its understood there is no anger attached to this, just providing counterpoint to the discussion. Wheres the fun and interest if everyone just sits around smiling at each others Dictionaries.

  88. Gahaz says:


    lulz worthy is to be worthy of lulz. lulz being a way to say that it was not just capable of causing a laugh but many laughs.

    lol is not a nickname, it is “laugh out loud” a lot of these fancy new messages will start with this to translate that the writer is in a humorous mood right from the get go.

    the abrupt “nasty” is to express the thought “What did you think of dinner? It was terrible huh?”

    to nite is trendy. It started with 2nite, but a lot of the jargon is moving around and changing. It is no trendy to just change the spelling, dropping maybe one letter alone.

  89. Gahaz says:


    So, you find it offensive huh? Thats ridiculous when you think about it huh? Someone trying to be social with you is just typing something out to you, maybe just 2 or 3 sentences, and some word stand ins or missed grammatical workings are going to ruin your day? Have you ever thought they were just being casual with you? I’m not talking about business contacts, but friends.

  90. snail says:

    Hello! I Just wanted to say that I’m Italian and this phenomenon happens here, too. And here it’s even worse: there are people who tried the open competition to become magistrates and in the essay they put a bunch of grammar and spelling errors! It’s a real shame!! You know, one would suppose that this kind of people can speak their language in a perfect way… well it seems they can’t!!
    Let’s all learn Lojban!! :-P

  91. Kaneohe says:

    Meh. Taking offense at stuff like this isn’t worth it; there’s many bigger, more important things to worry about than the capitalization and punctuation of a given message.

  92. Davesnot says:

    You’d think with these kids growing up with computers they could type… I’m slow at 80 wpm.. back in the day.. before spell check .. when typewriters had paper in ’em.. You had to learn to type. It was a matter of survival if you wanted to say anything important to anyone of any importance.

    Stream of thought still works with complete words.. and can still be annoying.. but at least the reader doesn’t have to figure out both the words and the conncetions between them..

    Communication is good.. if the reader can understand what the writer is trying to say.. job done. If not.. well.. then two people have wasted their time.. if it truely is possible to “waste” time…. because if we can waste time.. then we can affect it.. and if we can affect it .. which is different from being effected by it it).. if we can affect it .. we can manipulate it.. and thus.. travel in it..

    Ooops.. sorry… that stream of thought thing…


    (mispelling intentional to prove that you understood despite my lousy typing)

  93. McNutcase says:

    Gahaz: please research the difference between “casual” and “contemptuous”.

    You are, at this point, NOT attempting to be social. You are, instead, attempting to argue in favour of enormous wasted effort. Consider: to type your posts in a grammatically correct style might take you, at an exceedingly generous estimate, ten minutes per post. This is ten person-minutes. Let’s be generous also and assume that the post merely takes an extra thirty seconds to comprehend at the reader’s end; I have found posts that I was still unable to comprehend after a minute. What this means is that if more than twenty people (a small number) read your post, you are wasting more time by your laziness than you have saved. Now, let’s consider a truly representative example; the extra time needed for making your post grammatically correct is essentially negligible unless you are significantly subnormal in educational terms. The fact that you’re able to understand what people have been saying to you on here indicates that this is not that case. Frankly, you are showing contempt for most of the commenters here.

    I do not want any response to this from you, nor will I respond to any such response. I frankly have far more worthwhile and pleasurable things to do than waste time arguing with you.

  94. mookers says:

    If you are fascinated by discussions such as this one and do not already read Language Log, you might be interested – there is even the occasional post that crosses over into geek culture.


  95. Mark says:

    I’m slipping a little bit. Depending on whom I’m talking to, I’ll omit initial capitalization or punctuation in instant messaging. Punctuation, I will leave off because I don’t know when I’ll want to continue a sentence even after sending it; capitalization, I leave off because without punctuation, there are no sentences, hence nothing to begin with a capital letter.

    The few occasions that I am required to send a text message, I always type out the full words (big words!) with complete, judicious application of English mechanics. I’m not that stuck-up; I just know that receiving such a message is such a rare occasion that it is sure to leave an impression on the receiver. They know that it is difficult for me to send such a reply, so they’ll be disinclined to require a response from me in the future.

    Even so, I find myself agreeing with the New Scientist article linked earlier: it’s not that people use this abominable dialect (knowing more ways to communicate can never be a bad thing, as long as txtspk isn’t your first), it’s that they can’t tell when it’s inappropriate to use it.

    Shamus, there’s a typo in the title of this post – it should be “i c ur a moran lol”

  96. Laurel Raven says:

    @ Gahaz:
    “Its strange and weird but if you can read it, you can read it. No, it has absolutely no place in a business setting. Nor in an educational paper, term or otherwise. In a social setting why does it matter, they want to write like that, why try and impose in a setting that has no ramifications?”

    I have to agree here. In a social situation, if you want to make yourself look like a complete idiot, by all means, go right ahead. I won’t stop you.

    I just won’t communicate with you if I don’t have to. Does this make me elitist? Maybe…I’m not the best speller in the world, my grammer isn’t the greatest, but come on! If you want to go to a resturant and eat like a pig, “Why are you making a big deal of it? It’s just McDonald’s” is all good and fine an argument, but you will still look like a pig and an ass to everyone around you.

    Even in relaxed social settings, there are certain standards we hold ourselves to. You don’t have to, however. Yes, you can go to Wal Mart in those jeans that have more holes in them than a wiffle ball, smelling like you’ve been shoveling manuer all day. If you are okay with painting that picture of yourself for others, then that is on you. Same with language online.

    You got your idea across; fine, I can agree with that. The fact that it looked like it came from an idiot, and the fact that I had to decipher it makes me not really want to talk to them, and I will stay perfectly happy with that notion.

  97. Freykin says:

    It bothers me as well when I see people writing like that, even in quick situations like gaming or texting. I tend to type everything out, even if it’s something that needs to be conveyed NOW and not 3 seconds later.

    It’s funny, about 4 years ago I did write using acronyms and abbreviations and all that, then I decided to try writing properly and it stuck.

  98. Cybron says:

    It’s hard not to resort to such idiocy when one is sending text messages without a real keyboard. The little numpad things are a pain in the ass – which is most of the reason I avoid sending text messages when possible. When it comes to email and other ‘real’ forms of communication, however, there’s no excuse.

  99. Kristin says:

    with my friends, on AIM, I type like this. For some reason, I don’t capitalize the first letter of my message, but I capitalize any further sentences in that message.
    next message starts with no cap. Punctuation, of course, is standard, as is correct spelling unless I’m deliberately using lolcat or textspeak or l334 for some reason. But I don’t worry about sentence fragments, and if I see a typo after the fact, I’ll shrug and say “meh.”

    I’m as lazy as anyone when I’m talking. I don’t censor myself in front of my friends, or my parents. The second I walk through my school’s door, all my cussing and much of my slang is gone, because I am a teacher and a professional and expected to act and speak like one.

    I see this as logically extended to email. As a professional, I am expected to present myself as one, and that means I check my spelling, punctuation, sentence construction, and grammar, and leave the lolcat or netspeak somewhere else. My work is a reflection of me, and I’d rather people see an intelligent and respectful person who puts some effort into making my communications as easy to understand as possible than a lazy slob who can’t be arsed to do anything over and above the minimum necessary.

  100. Burning says:

    I think everyone agrees that the quoted words (I hesitate to call them a sentence) don’t belong in formal business communication, or indeed any other type of formal communication.

    In casual communication I don’t find this sort of thing offensive. However, if a friend sent me a remark as opaque as the one Shawn received, I would respond with “What do you mean?” It took me three read throughs to make an educated guess at what Shawn’s client wanted from him. That’s two too many. Ease of reading can survive the violation of a lot of the conventions of good composition, but there are limits.

    I am not going to assume lack of respect if I see something like that. However, the writer is not (for whatever reason) putting out enough effort to analyze whether his writing will be easily comprehensible. I do not propose to pick up the slack.

  101. Ed Hering says:

    I’m also a person who gets really annoyed by this kind of garbage. I posted about this months ago (Atomic Fungus #633: Spell check is ruining the language) and at that it wasn’t anything like a complete list of things which annoy me. That post doesn’t even touch on how nuts it makes me when people throw apostrophes around like they’re confetti. Argh etc.

    The “Evolution of language” argument is all well and good, but this kind of crap is the result of pure laziness.

  102. Adamantyr says:

    I’ve always typed full sentences with punctuation, even when playing MMO’s. The fact I average 90+ words per minute means I can usually riposte a response about as fast as someone typing in Internet short-hand.

    Generally, using IS is like swearing… kids do it because they think it’s cool and edgy, but the effect it has is actually to establish the user as nothing more than a juvenile trend-follower.

    If I got a mail at work typed that way, I would probably send a mail saying “Let me clarify what you just said…” and possibly CC a supervisor so they can see that I’m having to waste company time to interpret a cryptic e-mail.

    E-mail isn’t the same as writing a letter the old-fashioned way, though. Especially in a work environment! I worked at a large software company, and e-mail there had a few rules:

    – Get to the point immediately. Convey the important information first, and preferably in a single sentence or two.
    – Regarding sentences, single-sentence paragraphs are perfectly acceptable in e-mail.. and preferred. If your paragraphs exceed 3-4 lines, they run the risk of being “skimmed” rather than read carefully.
    – Humorous or funny signatures are fine for personal e-mail, not for work.

    As a C.S. major, I had to take a technical writing class when I was in school. I had no problem with it (second-highest grade in the class) but a lot of the students groaned and complained how writing skills were useless and unnecessary… no wonder modern applications are so buggy, if that’s the level of communication they display.

  103. krellen says:

    Zaghadka writes:
    Now, Sinead O'Connor's “Nothing Compares 2 U,” there was no explanation or justification for that.

    Actually, there’s a really good explanation for it.

    That’s how Prince wrote it.

    Now, why Prince decided not to spell is another question altogether.

  104. Gahaz says:

    Laurel Raven, McNutcase,

    Insults, nice! McNutcase, even though you won’t read this I guess. Why are you so angry? Just because some people don’t feel its needed to impress their friends with their amazing grammar? Some people just don’t feel it needs to be formal if you are emailing your friend across town about if they are interested in playing something online.

    Laurel, nice use of a metaphor that doesn’t apply to what I have been saying. Its a lot of comments, you may have skipped ahead. I have not defended the abomination of a statement that resides at the top of this post. What I have been defending is the idea of txt speak being a mark of idiocy on someones demeanor. Just because you send a message to your friend, be it text, IM, or email, that few word stand ins (btw, irl, w/e, lol..etc) and a few smilies does not make you a social degenerate. Yes, it has no place in a setting that is a sole reflection of your character. Business contacts, co-workers (maybe some co-workers), boss, resumes, anything for school, but why is it such a black mark to send my friend that I have known for over 19 years (met when we were 5, isn’t that sweet!) a message along the lines of…

    “Hey! did ya see that gr8t match last night! lol, he knocked him out n 4 rounds! btw, r u still coming over to roll up sum characters wit Josh?”

    When its only going to be seen by him and he knows I’m not a giggling school girl, just using net speak because we see it all day. Its not anything thats in a public area attached to my real world name, not sent to anyone I wouldn’t want it to see.

  105. Momoko says:

    Writing like this makes me irrationally angry. I can understand doing it in IM and chatting (though I never have, unless it was a joke), but there is no need for this in emails or formal papers.

    I’ve seen people making requests for things, and they start off using real sentences and words and then they devolve into partially formed words and abbreviations. Those really piss me off. I can deal with people having trouble making grammatically correct sentences (I teach English as a second language and many of my friends are second language English speakers). But the blantant disregard for it if I KNOW you can speak English, just pisses the fuck out of me.

    So know that you are not alone.

  106. krellen says:


    The biggest reason why it’s a problem sending messages like that to your friend you’ve know for twenty years is when it becomes a habit. When you habitually write like that because most of your communication is with your friends (as it is for many people), it leads to situations like the one outlined above that even you call abomination.

    How you and your friends communicate in the privacy of your own messages is between you and your friends, of course. However, for most people the need for haste in written communication just isn’t something taken for granted, and thus the implicit lack of respect for the time it takes to formulate complete English can be jarring. I don’t do any texting, but my brother does a lot himself; he never bothers to correct his friends that use shorthand, but he always takes the time for complete English, and it is a habit that spreads; people tend not to send him shorthand any more.

    If it helps, instead of thinking there’s a problem with using shorthand, think of it as a compliment to use full English. It’s a subtle cue in written speech that says “Hey, you’re worth my time.” It’s as much a part of communication as the visual cues we have in spoken language; it’s much akin to the difference between saying “I love you” with a smile and saying the same thing through gritted teeth. Even in informal communication, little signs like that can make a big difference.

  107. Tryss says:

    We’re in the same boat. I will continue to put full words and full sentences into my communication. I noticed this in 2004:

    When later a cell phone company started with the “idk my bff jill”; I was disappointed messengerese had moved to enough of the mainstream to be considered clever.

    Sad, it just makes them seem like idiots to me. :(

  108. Shamus says:

    Yeah, let’s not do the personal insults thing. pls? kthx.

    I also want to point out that despite the difference of opinion, everything Gahaz has written has been properly constructed.

    Just sayin’.

  109. Ian says:

    Wow, you guys are all taking this way too seriously.

    Just accept the fact that you have differing opinions and move on with your lives. No need to get all worked up over comments in somebody else’s blog.

  110. Laurel Raven says:


    Perhaps I was not clear, and I realized this after I saved my reply to yours (I have been reading this entire post string, by the way, as I’ve found some of the comments interesting and amusing). First, I’m not angry. I simply don’t think there is much excuse to communicate that way outside of text messages.

    Many get in the habit of it…if I don’t know them already, I don’t really feel up to decyphering it. I feel that my analogy was at least partially apt: If you are going out to McDonalds with a few of your friends, you don’t need to observe fine dining ettiquete. You will be looked at funny if you wear a tie, and proper posture is not required. These ammount to a formal greeting, and precise sentence structure that I would expect in a business email, as you said.

    However, it would be rude to the other patrons and your friends if you were to fart and belch openly, or attempt to put the entire burger in your mouth at once (not exactly uncommon, either, and most other people will look at the person doing this with disgust).

    Granted, internet speak is not disgusting as the above example, but it can be annoying and distracting from what you are trying to say. If you and your friends are okay with it, and that is your only audience, then I don’t care. If you speak to me with it, it is really up to how I feel that day if I want to bother with it, and you should be aware that this could be the case with anyone you meet online, some of whom take far greater offence at it than I do.

    I am not saying, either, that someone who speaks that way is an idiot; merely that they will often appear that way when they try to make their point with that sort of speach. In a way, it IS disrespectful to the reader, since it puts the burdon of understanding on the reader rather than the writer (some of this is there already, but this is like saying you’re not even going to try to make it simpler by being clear).

    Between two friends…I might say something to a friend who says it once, maybe pick on them a little, but I will leave it at that if they continue to use it. In some ways, I agree with you on this. It isn’t THAT big of a deal, most of the time.

    But it does worry me when I see AIM addicted kids putting forth “professional” work that looks like a two year old threw a bunch of letter and number blocks at, and the only excuse they have is that is the way they are used to typing.

  111. Gotelc says:

    I completely agree with you. It is showing people a great disrespect when you don’t at the very least use punctuation (I am not even that adamant about using it correctly) or sign your letter. In ten years I hope your not laughed at, I hope that text and AOL-speak are just fads and that the common written language will be able to elevate itself above. Not that it does not have its place. In text messages even i use it, in informal messages on forums and such i can let it slide. But a business letter? WTF?! (i use it here in lou of swearing)

    I like your alien hypothesis the best!

  112. Gahaz says:

    Krellen, and still Laurel, and all the others that are throwing the word “lazy” around like we are playing tag!

    (You guys are giving me such a fun debate, haven’t flexed like this since High School!)

    The issue, it seems, is a lot of the folks here construe the txt speak as being lazy when in reality its just a form of interaction. Perhaps when we were first seeing it (and probably still on phones) it was cutting down presses and trying to be a little lazy, but what it has become is just having fun with the language. Its an entertaining way to type to friends and contacts that you think are sociable.

    Yes, sometimes the young folk are letting it slip into more serious sections but you can’t punish them for it further than the fact that they won’t be taken seriously. That job application that they slipped in “btw I can’t work past 6 pm on weekdays”, that place of business is most likely not going to hire them. That term paper that they slide in a “Some ppl are less fortunate…” is going to get docked for it. They will realize whats going on or flounder, and if they can’t figure it out, they were going to fail anyway.

    But that applies anywhere really. There is a form of the language you use at certain times and different versions for other times. Long ago there was a time that a certain someone worked at Taco Bell, putting their wife through college. There was a certain vocabulary he used while working the counter that consisted mostly of Thank yous, smiles and sorries. When he was working the back with the normal employees that he had befriended (you can guess) that there was a drastic change in the speech that he and others used. When the district manager was there the stock of used words and phrases changed again.

    Txt speak today is more enjoying the language in a weird way than being lazy. Moderating a forum is hazardous to your health but I have learned the way that this speech is thrown around and grown a small place in my heart for it. I grin when I come upon something new or funny. I know, I know, how dare we enjoy the language by changing it up right? Burn these heathens down for mixing some letters up to give each other a giggle. I will worry and fret when something written in this fashion is considered the new American classic novel, but until then its all just lulz guys, its all just lulz. (lulz=lots of laughs)

    Big shout out to Shamus! Nice to see you on your own blog! ;P (I just couldn’t stop the smiley)

  113. I’m one of those arseholes who spells, capitalises & punctuates everything properly in SMS/text messages (I’m not using a phone with a keyboard or anything, I just couldn’t put my name to something that looks like it has been written by a 3 year old); my online communication is similarly ‘proper’ (which is nice and easy because I do have a keyboard for this…)

    What I’ve noticed is that people who message me (online or SMS) gradually started spelling things properly – even people who previously communicated to me in code (and who still type like that when talking to other people).

    Whether that means people automatically tailor their communications to the style of whoever they’re talking to, or just that I’m so much of an arsehole people don’t want to put up with my bitching about textspeak is another matter entirely, though.

    And it’s probably rather telling that the only person who still spells like an infant when text-messaging me is my mother.

  114. GAZZA says:

    Yeah, me too.

    I don’t even use those abbreviations when sending SMS messages – and at least there you can at least understand why abbreviations might be used.

    For what it’s worth, a lot of younger people seem to use that sort of language ironically rather than seriously. But I have no idea whether they constitute a significant proportion or not.

  115. JFargo says:

    You know who really get me? The people who use “LOL,” “WTF,” and similar abbreviations (which take LONGER to say than the actual words) in a non-ironic sense. Once in a while? Okay, I’ve let “suxxors” slip out now and then, because it’s funny, but the abbreviations in out-loud conversation? That should really stop.

    Also, I agree with Unimaginative Pseudonym: I'm not using a phone with a keyboard or anything, I just couldn't put my name to something that looks like it has been written by a 3 year old.

  116. andy says:

    I once had an email to me inquiring about a job that had been advertised, the email was about 10 lines and was entirely devoid of capitalisation or punctuation. The job, amusingly, was for a graduate position – for someone who had FINISHED university.

    I also had a message from the head of the IT department at the organisation I work for flagged as spam, due to the impressive number of spelling and grammar mistakes – 16 of them in a 25 word email. A number of people actually thought his account had been compromised.

    The trouble I see is, in business land, ambiguities in language cost money, and there are plenty of ambiguities in ‘normal’ English. This is why lawyers use legalese in contracts – they are simply trying to make sure there are absolutely no ambiguities or loop holes. Unfortunately ‘txt’ speak, which tends to use abbreviations and do away with punctuation, tends to exacerbate these ambiguities – hilarity ensues.

    Also, in written communication it is *really* difficult to set the tone, in verbal communication there are so many cues to pick up on, even over the phone you can tell when someone is being sarcastic. It is difficult to set the tone of a written piece using proper English, it is nigh impossible using ‘txt’ or ‘l33t’ speak.

    Finally, in anything but a familiar setting, it just makes you look silly. Sure, use it with your friends, just as you speak differently to them too. I greet one of my good friends, ‘Yo bitch – when did you get out of jail?’. He’s a guy, and we are both Aussies. It doesn’t make sense to call him a bitch, or infer that he is a convict. Sometimes I greet him, ‘Entaro Adun, executor’. For the record, he is not a member of the protoss race. He isn’t even an astronaut. This is not how I normally speak, even to acquaintances. I certainly don’t greet my boss or colleagues in either fashion, and would find it surprising if they spoke to me in that way too. Still, some people blur the line, get confused, or whatever, and they look silly when they send a message out in ‘txt’ speak.

    Still, I can’t wait till the day I get a specifications document for a new project in l33t speak with poor punctuation, littered with Starcraft references. Hello fat maintenance contract! :p

  117. Kotenku says:

    The Collegeboard Advanced Placement Testing Administration has legitimized Text-speak as a valid form of writing on certain tests.

    It’s actually more because the AP test essays require test-takers to work extremely fast with extreme accuracy in order to achieve high grades – and they have an extremely short amount of time for it all.

    But just thought you’d be interested to hear that.

    Additionally, the rise in textspeak that you’re seeing is pretty much circumstantial. It’s probably the exact same ratio of good spellers to text speakers as it has always been. Having been on the internet for the past 8 years of my life, I know that it seemed like it was a lot more prevalent then, than it is now. Or so I thought.

    What it all comes down to is what communities you hang out in, and what values those communities hold in regards to proper spelling and grammar. On Battle.net I’d find exclusively idiot-speakers – and, until I was 13 or so, I was one of them. Then I joined a community of hardcore roleplayers on Neverwinter Nights and the idiot-speakers were always ostracized.

    There’s nothing you can do about it but ignore them. The people you know, you can try to change for the better (did thus with the girlfriend, she got out of that habit mighty quick.) But strangers, there’s just no point.

    You know the adage “Don’t argue with idiots. They’ll just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
    Well. It applies.

  118. Laurel Raven says:


    I have to concede that one…I myself sometimes use l33t 5p3ak and other forms of online communications as something humorus, or ironic, or something just between my friends and I. There is nothing wrong with that. I guess my issue is when approaching someone else that you don’t know, it feels lazy not to at least try.

    I won’t concede that there is a certain amount of this going on that is about either laziness or rebelling for rebellion’s sake (I think rebellion is a great thing, for a good cause). I see pleanty of examples that simply make me cringe, or make me wonder about the person’s intellegence. I’m far from a grammer nazi (I don’t spell well enough to be one, frankly). Heck, maybe the problem is just that I don’t “get” it. Then again, I’m one of those weird people for whom the internet had the opposite effect from what most teenagers experienced…my spelling and my grammer improved significantly since I’ve been on the internet.

    Maybe that just makes me biased. Anyway, I think at this point I can agree that I’ve just been overly stuffy about this particular point, and let it go…as long as it stays out of business, its fine. I may be turned off by it at first, but that will be my problem to deal with.

    After all…I’d be a hypocrite if I said they have to conform, and take away their choice of HOW they express themselves.

    Oh, and thanks…I haven’t had a good debate for a while myself.

  119. Jeff says:


    Btw (ha ha), what makes a person sound pretentious in writing things on the web is a constant reference to yourself and how that makes you better. You refer to yourself about 14 times in your posts so far today. You may not be trying to appear that way, but in the land of letters and no personal inflection, more so in one were everything needs to be written out like a term paper, the more you sound like an over-arching elitist scowling at everyone else.

    Personal reference infer opinion. If I were to be debating the effects of whips, I’d be using physics and there would be no personal references at all, as it would be a discussion of facts.
    If I simply made a statement and didn’t explain why, then it would sound like a statement of fact, and utterly arrogant.
    “[opinion], because [experience].”

    krellen said, “I don't do any texting, but my brother does a lot himself; he never bothers to correct his friends that use shorthand, but he always takes the time for complete English, and it is a habit that spreads; people tend not to send him shorthand any more.
    Unimaginative Pseudonym said, “What I've noticed is that people who message me (online or SMS) gradually started spelling things properly – even people who previously communicated to me in code (and who still type like that when talking to other people).

    This is pretty much the only personal example I wrote. Does it sound less pretentious by referencing someone else? The only other things I’ve said regarding myself personally is that I don’t always use proper English either.

    In any case, we agreed that in any sort of semi-formal setting, proper English is, er, proper.

    However, in an age where even our cellphones (the source of txtspeak) can provide full words with a few taps (I’ve had it offer a 12 letter word from two taps), there’s no excuse to use “u” instead of “you”.

    In that sample message, on my RAZR (R = Right, L = Left, to select the words):
    The difference between sho and show is literally one button (9)
    nite is 5 presses (6 4 8 3 R), night is (6 4 4 4)
    The difference between wat and what is 1 button (9 2 8 vs 9 4 2 8)
    You is (9 6 8), two presses more than u (8)
    w/e is (9 1 3), whatever is (9 4 2 8 3)
    c is (1 R R), see is (7 3 3)
    to nite is (8 6 * (space) 6 4 8 3 R), tonight is (8 6 6 4 4)

    So… -1 1-1 2-2 3 = 2.
    It actually takes 2 more key presses to say:
    “lol, that sho last nite was lulz worthy! wat did u think of the dinner? nasty. w/e, c u to nite.”
    “lol, that show last night was lulz worthy! What did you think of the dinner? Nasty. Whatever, see you tonight.”

    And again, I don’t even have to say anything, I don’t try to correct anyone. I just reply with actual English… and lo and behold, most times their responses get more and more like actual English.

    Just because some people don't feel its needed to impress their friends with their amazing grammar?

    From Blast from the Past:
    Troy: You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn’t know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior.

    In other words, as krellen pointed out, “you’re worth my time”… which translates to respect, or a lack thereof.

    I have less a problem with txtspeak itself then with it being defended. Many of my friends sprinkle conversations with cuss words, and it may be accepted in casual conversation, but the users acknowledge that it’s wrong.

    Yes, you can go to Wal Mart in those jeans that have more holes in them than a wiffle ball, smelling like you've been shoveling manuer all day. If you are okay with painting that picture of yourself for others, then that is on you. Same with language online.
    I sometimes see people from China (warning, racism – but I’m Chinese too) wearing flip flops and pjs to the supermarket. That applies there. You’re out in public. You can be dressed like that if you want, but that doesn’t mean we have to approve. I note that it only happens to new immigrants from mainland China, too. The longer they’re here the more they’ll act like the local mall is still “out in public” and no longer wear bathrobes out to the supermarket.

    (On a side note, these are the same people who wear suits (with ties!) and evening gowns to the amusement park in Hong Kong… in 30C weather!)

    Really, I’m more surprised that someone would take the time to use proper punctuation without actual words. Generally, it goes:
    Lack of both -> Full words -> Words Punctuation
    ’cause it’s more difficult typing in punctuation then to use the auto-complete.

    I’d like to state again that, like Burning, I don’t find it offensive, just like seeing the lady in flip flops and a bathrobe at the supermarket. But I do find it wrong.

    That post doesn't even touch on how nuts it makes me when people throw apostrophes around like they're confetti.
    What ‘re ‘ou talkin’ ’bout? It’s more festive. Like a weddin’.

    its all just lulz
    I must note that, in 4chan, this is used to play around with English (lrn2red, etc.), but the posters still use correct English when not playing around with it. And correct incorrect grammar/spelling rather nastily, too.

  120. McNutcase says:

    To be fair, there IS a legitimate excuse in using abbreviations when sending SMS: the 160-character limit.

    On the other hand, I find it far more interesting to compress for the 160 character limit by careful phrasing and word choice than by mechanically applying rules to shorten words. Maybe I’m odd, but I prefer to keep my mind active. Life is more fun that way.

  121. Daye says:

    Someone mentioned spell check somewhere and I started
    laughing quietly to myself.

    If spell check were utilized to ‘ proof ‘ a message
    such as our example, it would likely BSOD the machine
    and / or catch fire.

    Dad has a similar issue. He can type his a$$ off. He just
    forgets what a paragraph is. I get an email that is well
    written, just no paragraphs.

    I get sixty solid lines of data and my eyes start bleeding
    the moment I open it up.


    My eyes are begging for forgiveness by the time I’m done
    reading it.

  122. Arson55 says:

    Gahaz, so it’s just a fun way to play with language? I guess I can buy that, and that’s fine when dealing with others that are into it. But it shouldn’t be used where it is going to be encountered by a significant percentage of people who don’t understand the appeal. And there are a large number of us that don’t. It would drive me insane if I saw it consistently on any of the forums I frequent or in emails I recieved.

  123. Gahaz says:

    Hey jeff, did you miss the final statement in my last post? I’m not arguing that people use the txt speak to save time or energy, they do it because its fun, its entertaining and livens up what would normally be blocks of text in a forum. And you took a lot of time with my pretentious statement, when I wasn’t going for your throat or anything. Sorry if that was taken that far, again, we are conversing through this strange series of tubes that relies on cold text. Again, sorry if it was taken as such.

    As you stated at the end of you post you said you have seen lulz as a word used to have fun with the language. This is exactly the point I have been trying to make, that people don’t txt speak for speed for the most part, but to entertain each other.

    Although you continue to state that txt speak is WRONG, it still is an enjoyable social way of having fun with the english language.

    It is out of place and wrong in a formal or business type situation, but fine on a forum, or to a friend, or even a “savvy” family member. Its not the downfall of our language, or the dumbing down of society as a whole. Its a trend thats coming up as a literary pun, a joke. Its what rules alongside the memes and phrases that live on the internet. It’s a mildly secret language MMOers live by and use to communicate. Compare the phrase “LFF 2m dps GB” inside Lord of the Rings online compared to “Looking For Fellowship, Two More Damage characters for Great Barrows”

    I do not defend bad grammar, or the cutting of all words from a message. What I do want to defend is the idea that sprinkling them in is completely normal, and don’t persecute your friends for using words or stand ins they think are cute or funny. Don’t jump on that friend that sends you that innocent email…

    “Hey man, wut was up @ the club last nite? lol, that was fun :D”

  124. DJFM says:

    I keep coming back to a little book I found some time ago, “The Elements of Style”, by Mssrs Strunk and White. The thing that stuck in my mind was their suggestion that if your reader is having to spend time deciphering or, worse, re-reading your epistle, your message is not getting through. If they’re thinking “{insert deity of choice here} this writing is awful!”, they’re not thinking about what you’re trying to say.

    If what you’re trying to say isn’t important enough for them to actually think about, then why the {insert profanity of choice here} are you saying it in the first place!?!

  125. ArchU says:

    #0, Shamus: “What is causing this? The rise of phone-based text messaging? The educational system? Are we being infiltrated by aliens who mimic our habits in every way except that they can't grasp the most rudimentary rules of our written word?

    I’m just arrogant enough to abuse the language however I see fit. Also, the aliens want me to tell you that they did not happen, they are not taking over and they are not coercing me to write this.

  126. Jeysie says:

    Well, I have to admit that personally I don’t know anyone who primarily uses Netspeak “because its fun”. Whenever an occasion has arisen where I end up having to comment on the consistently poor grammar of someone, that person has always admitted that they either don’t type fast enough to use proper English, or they don’t think it’s important enough to bother. Always. Thankfully I’ve managed to convince a few of them that appearing intelligent and thoughtful is worth the extra expenditure of effort.

    The few people I know who use Netspeak “just for fun” do so very infrequently, always in an ironic manner, and speak with proper English the rest of the time.

  127. Scourge says:

    Oh sheesh. How I hate that.
    Since I once wrote an FAQ for aa game did I get spammed with questions over questions, most of them either answered in the FAQ or on the message bioard,but people were to lazy to read it..

    And then I gt really butchered sentence, mind you that English is me second language, I read it pretty good and know a lot of the abbrevations, heck, I can even read 50% 1337 5p34k, but that’s about it. If the sentence makes no sense to me happen two cases.

    Case A:
    I ignore the email simply, which is too rude and I actually enver do it.

    Case B: I make a wild suggestion of what the person could possibly want from me and reply to this with a question mark at the end of the sentence.

    But seriously, stop slaughtering and butchering the language! You just make it so much harder for the rest of us. And pelase, for the sake of God, stop using lol. I always have this pic of the 10 old buy, grinning like mad with highwired teeth (Don’t know that word for that, but those are used to fixate and stabilizhis teeth).
    And Please, this picture is too horrible to behold.

    Edit: Some of the comments I got from emails regarding the FAQ, sheesh..
    i read ur FAQ thanks 4 the tips
    but.. that dude that talked about vehicles tell him that he saw a trailer for STALKER: Clear Sky (next release) bcoz i saw that same trailer. AND a bunch of people (on the game) keep telling me i can break camp… do u know how 2 do this???

    Mind that he is talking about stalker, released in 06, when there was yet no thought on making a preqeual.

    The other emails I got were very datailed and well written though, so, it seems that not all of them are imbeciles in grammmar, heh.

  128. Avilan the Grey says:

    Personally my reaction is the exact same as Shawns; (yes I probably use too many semi-colons but I am addicted to them) I just disregard the person as a complete moron and goes on answering the people that has a functional brain.

    I am aware that I am not the best writer in the world, but English is not my first language. I mess up some times, but at least I have had training in writing and speaking properly.
    I am also anal enough to actually take two minutes extra typing my text messages on my cellphone all out (using “two” instead of “2” etc)…

  129. The worst part of Gahaz’s argument is his insistence that nothing matters in a social setting. This is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Formality matters *more* in a social setting! I don’t know about *you*, but I value my few friends a great deal more than I value every single nitwitty customer I’ve ever dealt with. Customers and business associates come and go, and sometimes you’re happier when they go. Friends are a treasure.

    Ask yourself how it would make you feel if your spouse gained a hundred pounds, stopped bathing, and greeted you at the door by farting loudly because it’s “just you” and they don’t have to “be proper” because it’s a “social interaction”. Then maybe you’ll begin to comprehend why some of us desire propriety and respectfulness in our social relationships. The only way to really show respect, care, and attentiveness in text communication is to put some time, effort, and consideration into your work.

  130. Lost Chauncy says:

    I’m with Jennifer on this one. There’s way too little sense of propriety going around these days, and that includes the use of text speak in places where it clearly isn’t appropriate.

    Btw, JFargo’s comment in post 6 had me laughing out loud “…what do you do when it’s your boss?”

  131. Nathaniel says:

    Many people, including myself, stereotype those who use txtspeak, but this is not unreasonable. If you use the word “ain’t”, I will stereotype you as an uneducated backwoods hick. If you use txtspeak, I will assume you are a prepubescent ditz. Neither stereotype will always be accurate, but they are accurate often enough that they are useful generalizations.

    Actually, the use of “ain’t” is much more defensible: the language could use a contraction for “am not”, and it does not make the message hard to read. For me to read something written in txtspeak or leet, however, requires me to sit there and decode the message. It’s like reading Chaucer:

    “Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote / And bathed every veyne in swich licour, / Of which vertu engendred is the flour.”

    I can figure out what the words mean, but I have to sit there and think about it. If someone wrote a blog entry like that, I would not consider it worth the effort to figure out what they were saying. It is a hindrance to communication, in that unless you are using a phone keypad, the time saved in writing it is far outweighed by the extra time it takes to read it.

    I do not appreciate having to read something twice to decipher its meaning. When someone types “grammer” instead of “grammar”, I don’t get annoyed because I can mentally correct it as I read the word; it barely slows me down. If they use “your” in place of “you’re”, however, I may not notice until I reach the end of the sentence and realize that the sentence didn’t make sense.

    Also, I’m surprised nobody has linked to this yet: Grammar Nazi

  132. Sem says:

    The only thing I care about is that I understand the message. Granted I would be weird to see netspeak in for example a business setting but if it doesn’t make the message incomprehensible (or only comprehensible after 20 minutes of trying to understand it) I don’t think it’s bad.

    Netspeak is only a problem insofar it makes the reader less able to understand you and in formal/business settings probably makes the reader thinks less of you. That’s why I would generally prefer complete sentences, good grammar & punctuation and correct spelling but it isn’t an absolute requirement.

    However I have to admit that if someone uses extensive netspeak in a forum, email,… I perceive it as childish & not very intelligent. As Nathaniel (post above) said, in general the same will be true for the writer but it isn’t an absolute truth. That’s why I see this as a prejudice and try to counteract it.

    Some people here think that netspeak is a sign of disrespect. I find this not very logical. As Shamus pointed out, not so long ago there was a dress code in business that by today’s standards seems oppressive. There are still companies that if you show up in jeans, the management thinks that you are disrespectful to them. All that changed only because of the then new generation.

    Now, the next generation does the same to language and now suddenly it is a problem ? As said before, I still has to be comprehensible but why bother about the occasional ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ ? Admittedly, there are social standards for everything, including language and the writer takes a risk if he crosses them and uses netspeak when it is not appropriated. In my book that makes him socially not so smart but not disrespectful (and I’ve been there. Not with netspeak but social skill & grace in general doesn’t come natural to me. It became better the last couple of years because I joined an anime club but if you spend your time mostly in front of a computer/in books/in your head, what do you expect ?)

    In the end it boils down to some tolerance of both sides. If an email in netspeak bothers you so much send a polite reply that you would like to have it in proper English next time. The other party then has to have the decency to not be offended and comply with you request.

  133. Gahaz says:

    Sem, you are the sweetest and most legitimate person that has disagreed with me today. Thank you for not taking the complete “intellectual” “Its wrong because its not proper stance that about 26 people have repeated. Its the same message I have been putting out, that the occasional net speak stand in or reference is not reason to blow some one off or try and tear them down.

    Why alienate a friend or contact because they let a few “btw’ or “lol” into an informal letter.

  134. Nathaniel says:

    Gahaz: The problem with using language that is not “proper” is that you are making it difficult for other people to understand you. Everyone is taught standard spelling and grammar in school; it is expected that everyone can read and write it. When you deviate from the standard, you are putting a burden upon the reader to translate what you have written. You are saying to them, “I’m going to make your life harder for no good reason, except perhaps my own laziness.” This is, rather naturally, perceived as rude.

    Think of it as putting on a thick fake accent. “What’s the problem? People can still understand me!” Well, yes, but you’re making it difficult for them. If you do it occasionally, to be funny, people will laugh. If you do it throughout a conversation, people will get sick of it real fast. “Will you cut it out with that stupid accent? You sound like an idiot!”

  135. Sem says:

    Nathaniel : Indeed, if would find this very annoying too but there is one problem with your example. You assume that the speaker wants to actively and knowingly make your life harder. This will be sometimes the case and than you may unleash hell for all I care but I think most people will stop doing it if you just ask.

    You are also correct that the speaker should have known better and could have expected that his thick, fake accent would become annoying fast and that standard language would have been a much better choice. Unfortunately, people aren’t perfect.

    For example, when I was younger, I had the unfortunate tendency to ramble on and on and on… (usually about computers, science, games, books,…). After half an hour my listener’s eyes would glaze over and they probably would have preferred a head shot over keeping listening to me. I usually didn’t notice. Now I do but I am still sometimes unsure so I just flat-out ask if I am boring them.

    You could have interpreted my behavior as ‘I think that what I say is way more interesting that you want to say. You are below me.’ or you could have said to me that you would want to speak about something else. I wouldn’t have mind.

    Now, if I would have mind and insisted on rambling on, then I would have been indeed a selfish jerk. In that case, feel free to slap me ;).

  136. I agree entirely! While people who are still learning english can be excusable, its really shocking when you find out people who are using such horrible english are from America!

    This happened to me. I asked someone in a chat room where they were from – since their english was pretty bad… he told me Texas. Born and raised.

    There should be some sort of ‘gun law’ that allows us to shoot such people.

    Thin the herd!

    Sure, some mother will cry and claim injustice, but you can be it won’t be MY KID writing like that.

    Shoot the mom too?

    I’m going to hell aren’t I?


  137. beno says:

    I seriously didn’t even know what the first fumbled quote meant until I read the second one !!

    Half my workmates send emails like this now – I’m often tempted to write back with just “What?”

  138. AJ Beamish says:

    Rabid Purse posted: “I agree entirely! While people who are still learning english can be excusable, its really shocking…”

    ‘can be excusable.’ ??? Not sure if that’s bad English but it doesn’t sound right… ‘may be excused’ – ‘can be excused’ sounds better; its = it’s -or- it is…

    Nothing personal Rabid, just could not let that slide considering the topic.

    I remember my early years of education, in England, my Language Arts homework assignments seemed rather excessive. They consisted of reading a paragraph or two and then answering 20 questions regarding it. Not so bad, right? We had to re-write the paragraph(s) first, then write each question out along with its answer. A daunting process that took many a play hour from my childhood.

    I look back on that and realize that because of this I have a far better command of the English language than what my American education utterly failed to instill in me.

    Looking through the comments early on, I noticed a teacher commenting and saying that “it’s only going to get worse.” Again, I don’t want to personally attack anyone but with an attitude like that coming from a teacher, one can only wonder why “it’s going to get worse.”

    I think it was the Governator who put forward the premise that teachers should be evaluated on their results and not on tenure… And people call him the moron!

  139. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Yes I blame phone texting, yes i am guilty of this behavior on the phone.
    When it comes to typed sentences on the world wide internets i am right there with you bro. Type like you didn’t skip engrish class.

  140. Roy says:

    I don’t know… we’re certainly taught the fundamentals of our language, but let’s not pretend that English is a completely standardized language. Doing so ignores the reality that different variations of English are spoken, not just around the world, but within our own nations, as well. There’s a premium placed on certain dialects of English, while others are disparaged, but that says more about class issues than it does about the intelligence of the speakers or about the value of a particular dialect. Americans raised in the Deep South are going to use English in slightly different ways than someone born and raised in Boston or someone from the Midwest.

    Attempts to standardize spelling and grammar are relatively new in the grand scheme of things- English has only had “standardized” spellings for a few hundred years. American English makes this more ridiculous by having spellings that are deliberately different from British English spellings used around the world. Or look at how some foreign words adopted into English undergo changes to be “more English” while others come through unmolested. English is a messy ridiculous language full of abnormalities and absurd “rules” that have at least as many exceptions as instances where they apply.

    The real test in English is whether you’re understood. It’s why we have “flamable” even though “inflamable” means the same thing. It’s why “I could care less” continues to gain popularity even though the speaker really means that they could not care less. It’s why “ain’t” isn’t going away any time soon.

    The original post is practically unreadable, but I think that there’s a big gap between that and the position that any informal or just plan incorrect English is somehow a huge problem. Shortform words and phrases have been a part of our language for… well… probably about as long as we’ve had language. I mean, I doubt that most of the posts in this thread are beyond reproach- most of us have some incorrectly spelled words or questionable grammatical constructs, but if most of our readers can understand us, we’re probably fine in most everyday situations. The world is not going to cease to turn, nor is our language going to die because we use “btw” in an e-mail or an informal letter.

  141. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Its not the phone texting that is to blame.I myself type 1000+ text messages each month,yet I always use full words,and avoid the idiotic substitutions of “O” with “0”,”V” with “W”,and many other so called time savers.I really dont get it why people think that these dumb things save time?I type way faster than anyone I know,even though most of them use these substitutions.

    I also regularly call my friends idiots when they send my such a thing,especially via a computer.So they either stop writing like that,or stop communicating with me.Either way,I dont see such things often.

  142. krellen says:

    AJ Beamish wrote:
    Looking through the comments early on, I noticed a teacher commenting and saying that “it's only going to get worse.” Again, I don't want to personally attack anyone but with an attitude like that coming from a teacher, one can only wonder why “it's going to get worse.”
    I doubt it has much to do with the teachers’ quality. It has to do with the parents that refuse to accept their child’s teacher’s assessment of their child. Anything less than “spectacular” is frowned on and charted as the teacher’s fault, even through a student only spends one-sixth of their time at school, and usually only a sixth of that sixth with any given teacher. Children spend half their time – most of their waking hours – away from school, where the parents, not teachers, are responsible for their education and behaviour. Yet a teacher cannot fail a student that performs poorly, nor ensure the parent will do their part in the child’s education.

    A teacher can only do so much. The blame falls on parents that allow their children to communicate this way, and there’s been a recent trend of parents-as-friends rather than parents-as-shepherds. This does not make for well-disciplined and focused progenies.

  143. Jeff says:

    Having seen it twice now from the same person…

    Passive-aggressive insults remain personal attacks. It’s not clever, and we do notice. Enough.

  144. I’d like to add that I’m not opposed to 1337 on principle. I do occasionally use 1337-ism’s when I am communicating with my friends through email, chat, or what-have-you. Why? Because I wish to be expressive, and a woman could not ask for a more perfect medium for expressing the tawdry, the inane, the foolish, the sophomoric, and the superficial. These are all things that require expression at times, usually in a mocking manner.

    At other times, my desire for expression requires the most profound eloquence that I can muster. You cannot express the profoundity of joy or the Stygian depths of tragedy via 1337. If the only thing you have to express is inane superficiality, then I pity you.

  145. McNutcase says:

    Can people quit whining about Chaucer? I read Chaucer in the original, because I wanted to – by the time I read it, I’d dropped English class (optional in UK schools after 16; I’d passed well enough to graduate, and didn’t get on well enough with the teachers who taught it up to 18 to enjoy it, especially since I’d have been on 5 hours a week up from 2) but picked up a friend’s copy that she was studying for English, and just started reading.

    If you have trouble with Chaucer, read it aloud, in a sing-song accent. Make like you’re Swedish. All of a sudden, it’s perfectly comprehensible.

    I work Ren Faire. For workshops this year, I had to translate something into the basic Faire accent, which is pretty much Shakespear-style. I’d have found it a lot easier to translate it into Chaucerian English… and for the record, I winged the translation. Told the old barometer joke and translated it on the fly. There’s a difference between playing with language and being lazy…

  146. Zaghadka says:

    @#84, Jeff

    I just typed “9, 6” on my phone, which I got from Sprint last year and I get “Wm” for my trouble.

    It’s a Samsung, no idea what model. I have “auto-complete” turned on. It doesn’t work.

    I’m glad for the tip on which phone to purchase (Razr), but I don’t care enough about texting to bother. So the advice doesn’t help those who have phones like mine, and these are the ones that come with Sprint’s contracts.

    It has a camera, of course, but the texting sucks. :-/

    As far as your generational identity, at 24 you’re very close to no longer being a “youth.” From the way you write, I’d say you’ve already passed beyond it. At 25, you’ll definitely be beyond, though it won’t catch up with you until you’re 29. You are no longer a member of the “youth.” You’ve passed beyond MTV’s demographic. You’re an adult now.

    Get used to it. You may now trust people who are over 30. ;)

  147. Zaghadka says:

    Who’s whining about Chaucer? It’s incomprehensible to people who don’t study Middle English. I understood that without feeling threatened by the statement, and I concentrated in Medieval Lit. for my English degree.

  148. Blackbird71 says:

    Jennifer Snow said:
    The worst part of Gahaz's argument is his insistence that nothing matters in a social setting. This is as far from the truth as it is possible to get. Formality matters *more* in a social setting! I don't know about *you*, but I value my few friends a great deal more than I value every single nitwitty customer I've ever dealt with. Customers and business associates come and go, and sometimes you're happier when they go. Friends are a treasure.

    I’ll agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

    Gahaz said:
    “Why alienate a friend or contact because they let a few “btw' or “lol” into an informal letter.”

    Because if a “friend” can’t show me enough respect to speak to me with a vocabulary better than that of a three-year old, then they have already taken the first step in alienating me. I respect my friends, I treat them accordingly, and I expect the same from them. It’s a two-way street. If they can’t give a similar level of respect, why are they deserving of my friendship? If you choose to associate with inconsiderate lackwits, that’s your perrogative, but be willing to accept that some of us have higher standards.

    “…I myself sometimes use l33t 5p3ak…”

    This right here is the perfect example of my biggest problem with the whole mess. I don’t mind abbreviations or shortenings when the occasion calls for it, such as when typing space or equipment make full speech prohibitive (text messages on a cell phone), or when speed is of the essence (in an online game, etc.). I don’t mind the occasional use of a “lol” or a smiley in a medium that makes it otherwise difficult to convey emotion. But it is typing phrases like this, intentional misspellings and using substitutions of numbers for letters without any benefit of speed or space, that I find absolutely abhorrent. It is being complicated for no other reason than to be complex. It’s about ego, about trying to be exclusive and to appear superior through the use of a “secret language.” It’s the height of disrespectful and arrogant behavior in communication. As such, I find the use of such “leet speak” (even “leet” is a bastardization of a true English word) to be very offensive, and quite telling about the user’s mindset and personality.

  149. Zaghadka says:

    Another thought, the education system is definitely not helping.

    When my kid was in 3rd and 4th grade, her school had a “spell things the way you like” policy. No spelling correction was done because that is “learning by rote” and rote == bad.

    She gets into 5th grade, and the new school holds her to a rote standard. We moved. Guess what? She can spell words like “impossible,” “deceit,” and “concentration,” but has trouble spelling simple words like “fence” or “through.”

    It absolutely tracks to words that are at the 3rd and 4th grade level. On her state exams, she got all 90th percentile, except in spelling, where she tanked.

    The histogram of her score looks like a comedy sketch.

    I would blame the “rote is always bad,” modern education crowd for this nonsense.

    My kid’s still working on undoing the damage they did to her at that school.

  150. Terrible says:

    The only thing I care about is that I understand the message.

    Me too. And the simple fact is that the further a piece of text deviates from the norm (I guess what is here termed “proper” English) in the way of spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., the harder it is for me to interpret.

    Get creative with the language if you want, but if you’re trying to do business with someone, as I assume that guy was trying to do with Shawn, why take a risk that you’re going to be misunderstood?

  151. Rick says:

    I don’t mind net speak, on the net, with one exception.


    Immediately brings to mind a confused imbecile. Also, calling people names (look up) like asshole, immediately either put the author in the ignore category, or if I am really incensed, I respond with the most literate applicable flame I can come up with. Yes, I know, ignore the trolls.

    I use net speak myself, mostly because (I’m a computer analyst, pity me) I still cannot type very well.

    However, in a business communication, there is absolutely no reason for illiteracy of any kind. Use a spell checker, LEARN some grammar. Then I will consider what you say to me as flowing from some source of intelligence. Otherwise, don’t bother, I probably won’t read it anyway.

  152. McNutcase says:

    Zaghadka/150: They WHAT?

    That, my friend, is so far beyond imbecilic that I simply do not have the words to describe it. In fact, I’m halfway inclined to say that you might have a case against them for dereliction in their duty to educate. Would you mind letting us know where this was so that people who have or might have children can either avoid it or make it very clear to them that they’re effectively wrecking the chances of their students being able to find jobs?

    Lack of link to blog is because I’ve had to switch browser – Twenty Sided Tale entries with more than about 140 comments cause Firefox to suffer nasty glitches on this Mac, but Safari works fine.

    And regarding Chaucer: I have not studied Middle English at any time, and I find Chaucer perfectly comprehensible. Beowulf, no dice, but Chaucer is easy.

  153. Gahaz says:


    This is my last post on this. No one seems to actually read nor want to comprehend what I am putting down. The fact that a few txt speak stand ins are not a sign of disrespect. When casually speaking to someone, say a friend, and you both are jovially talking, laughing as you do, and he talks over something you say. Do you instantly become angry and demand they apologize on the spot? If you say yes, lord help you keeping friends. Its a social communication. Why does txt speak offend so mightily?

    “Hey man, I had a great time last night at the bar. We should do it again sometime! I loved the bartender, that guy was funny! Btw, did you still want to get lunch tomorrow?”

    Was that offensive, unintelligible, lazy, or disrespectful?

    Anyway, I am done. This discussion seems to have settled into me versus a room full of 60 year old UK born English professors that require their friends and family to type up any correspondence in the form of a business letter to talk about their day. Thanks go out to the folks that actually had some actual debate with me, you know, with facts and statistics (heres looking at you Jeff!) and those that tried to dial down the people that just got angry with no point to be made (Hi Sem!).

  154. Dix says:

    Once in a while I get business-related email from a client who’s a Navy vet – in all caps. These messages include minimal punctuation – mostly ellipses and dashes. They read like telegrams. The guy is old enough that he might construct them that way out of habit; perhaps he worked ship’s telegraph.

    This doesn’t mean it’s business-appropriate to send someone a 30 line email in all caps. But if I’m right, this guy learned to ‘write letters’ this way when the Navy relied on telegraphy for communications.

    As hard as those emails are to read, they give me hope. Maybe written language doesn’t actually trend toward its specialized, abbreviated forms; maybe those forms are just a flash in the pan and will give way to superior technology upon its domination: the QWERTY keypad, perhaps, or whatever comes along to replace txt.

  155. Sem says:

    Terrible (post 151) : I agree completely with you. That’s why I said in my previous post that I prefer correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.

    Concerning the use of netspeak in business communication : definitely not a good idea. The example given in Shamus' post is indeed rather terrible but I would personally not be that offended and just reply that it would be better idea to use proper English.

    What bothers me in this thread is that some people feel that because somebody uses the occasional netspeak outside instant messaging or sms that means that either he is an stupid or he is disrespectful or both.

    The internet is sometimes seen as a great equalizer concerning communication. Because for every post/IM/… you only have a nickname and nothing else it forces people to ignore the writer's age/sex/race/… when assessing the message. I find it very ironic then that we then use grammar, punctuation,… as a means to judge the writer : if he uses netspeak, he is a drooling idiot.

    I also would to point out that culture, environment and education plays a very large role. I find post 155 of dix and post 141 of Roy very telling about this and want to add my own experiences. I live in Belgium where there are lot of dialects packed in very small country. In some cases I only have to move about 10 km away from my home town to be totally unable to understand the dialect. Two years ago I started working 88 km away from home and the first day it was very difficult to understand my colleagues. To add insult to injury, the language in my area (Dutch) changes some of it's spelling & grammatical rules every 10 years or so. Most people just stopped caring and just use whatever rule they learned when they were at school.

    The school system isn't very much better. In theory the teachers may not speak any dialect but in practice they all do so most people are not very used to talking “˜clean' Dutch and only use it when they have to. There are some purists who hate this situation and go in a flaming row whenever somebody uses dialect. Their behavior runs parallel with the attitude that netspeak is only for idiots. This influence of culture, environment and education means that some people find netspeak ok, some don't. Both attitudes are neither good nor bad but I would like it that if the two meet each other it doesn't automatically results in a fight.

  156. Jeysie says:

    “This discussion seems to have settled into me versus a room full of 60 year old UK born English professors that require their friends and family to type up any correspondence in the form of a business letter to talk about their day.”

    28 years old. Born and raised in Massachusetts. Not a professor (though I am a secretary), but someone whose teachers taught her to have some pride in using her own language properly and for the intended purpose of effective communication. I don’t expect a business letter, but I do expect at least an attempt at proper English instead of making me waste my time translating Netspeak. But thanks…


    “‘Hey man, I had a great time last night at the bar. We should do it again sometime! I loved the bartender, that guy was funny! Btw, did you still want to get lunch tomorrow?’ Was that offensive, unintelligible, lazy, or disrespectful?”

    Considering it was all proper English except for one common abbreviation that is in ubiquitous use (and thus unlikely to have its meaning be unfamiliar) and actually is a good saving in letters, no, I wouldn’t find it to be a problem.

    But this earlier example:

    “Hey! did ya see that gr8t match last night! lol, he knocked him out n 4 rounds! btw, r u still coming over to roll up sum characters wit Josh?”

    Would likely have me wishing he’d just use proper English, especially if I knew the fellow was fairly mature/intelligent whenever I spoke with him in person. I probably wouldn’t say anything to him (and I generally don’t say anything to other folks who use poor English either unless the topic arises for some reason), but I would be rolling my eyes to myself and sighing.

  157. “60 year old UK born English professors that require their friends and family to type up any correspondence in the form of a business letter to talk about their day.”

    I resemble this remark.

    (well, apart from age & education level…)

    Gahaz’s “Why does text speak offend so mightily?” question did interest me, though – because obviously it genuinely does offend quite a lot of us (I genuinely wince at a lot of the text-speak I read on forums and the like. That’s rather telling.)

    All I can narrow it down to is that it looks like the author can’t be bothered to write it out properly; we know it requires more effort to do so, and the fact that the difference in effort really is marginal appears to be irrelevant.

    There’s a definite truth to that – we’re all pretty much in agreement that textspeak in formal communiques is lazy, after all. We’re definitely aware that there’s a difference in effort.

    Does the difference of opinion really come in because I tend to think of proper spelling & punctuation as the default (so textspeak actively requires less effort – which is insulting), versus those who think that textspeak is the default, and anything else requires more effort (thus quite reasonably believing that they shouldn’t be required to make additional effort to communicate socially)?

  158. Gahaz says:

    Unimaginative Pseudonym:

    Now that is the most legitimate question and idea I have seen come out of this entire debacle. The difference, I think, that the perception is off, not the thought process that reaches the mind when deciding to use, or not use, txt speak.

    The txt speakers don’t feel that its “less” effort, but a viable alternative when talking with others of the same mindset. By being available to the internet you are part of the demographic and thus you get to take part in what the “internet generation” likes to do. Txt speak is not a chance to lessen the effort of typing, sometimes it takes a little extra effort to use it, but a way they like to type.

    It can be one of a multitude of reasons. Maybe they think its fun or funny, perhaps a whimsical touch to such an impersonal way to communicate. Then again maybe they really want to seem “with it”. I know I couldn’t help taking a shot at Halo 3 because it seemed to be the proverbial bee’s knees, boy was I let down.

    I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I also understand that opinions are rampant and never jive together the way you would like.

    I do believe there is no “default” to be looked at when your communicating in this digital age. Every different avenue we have available now seems to come with its own set of guidelines and they are very rarely the same. Maybe we are all wrong and in 12 years most people will communicate with pheromones. Who are we to judge or enforce any way of communication that works.

    Yes, the email that was sent to Shawn was ridiculous. That is not what I have been defending. The idea I have tried to present and defend is that a little txt speak is acceptable in our day and age. Again, when this style of writing gets a novel on the bestseller list, then I will weep for the downfall of the minds and the degradation of our written word. Right now though, I’m too busy enjoying having an avenue to talk to so many of my friends and family that may live too far away now to become enraged or offended to the point of asking them to retype something.

    I just enjoy the chance to send out a line and talk.

  159. Zaghadka says:

    @153, McNutcase

    Well, both schools use a curriculum called “Everyday Math” to teach basic arithmetic. It was developed at the University of Chicago.

    “Everyday Math” refuses to teach multiplication via the standard rote method, and instead insists on something called “the lattice method,” which I got to spend two hours with my daughter explaining why and how it worked (the book just treated the whole thing like a black box, refusing to explain it), and then personally teach her how to do things the sane way, because the method is so large and cumbersome that there is no way to do it on a cocktail napkin, or a Post-it note.

    The benefit? If your kids grow up to be mathematicians, and I’m talking gradual studies, they’ll have a leg up on things like linear algebra and language theory.

    For 98% of the class, it’s just a confusing, useless mess where no parent can help their child multiply a pair of 3 digit numbers, because the kids can’t explain why or how it works, and the parents have never seen it in their lives, and never will again.

    In the old school system, they wouldn’t even teach “long” multiplication. In the new school the teacher had to take it upon herself to deviate from the curriculum and teach it.

    I won’t even start with how the book teaches division.

    So, if you see a school with an emphasis on “creativity,” and won’t teach basic skills by rote, and that teaches the “Everyday Math” curriculum, don’t move to that district!

    That should screen out a lot of schools that are handicapping education for a generation.

    As far as lawsuits go, you can’t fight city hall. The only way to fight it is to move, when you find out your district is incompetent, or get an education degree and run for the board. The PTA doesn’t cut it.

  160. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About that everyday math:That is so dumb!Id really like to see anyone do a multiplication of just two numbers lower than 100 in their heads.I can do it without a problem with the regular method,and with a paper even faster than it would take me to draw that diagram.Sure,it is nice when we have large numbers(although a bit slower),but for small numbers(up to 3 digits) its ridiculous.And you say they are teaching just this thing at scholl?!Im shocked!It would be like teaching integration in order to explain how to draw a circle!

  161. McNutcase says:

    Ouch. Duly noted, not that I’m a father at this point.

    Fortunately, I do have the tendencies that will allow me to teach any putative child of mine the ways that I understand; heck, I forgot so much high-school maths that I recently had to figure out long division from first principles!

    Also, any child of mine will learn to use a slide rule. I once managed to “cheat” on a no-calculator test; I didn’t have an electronic calculator, true, but part of the prescribed equipment was a straight-edged ruler. My slide rule had a centimetric scale down one edge, so it was allowable. Aced THAT test…

  162. Jeff says:

    @147, Zaghadka

    Actually, I pulled it out after your comment and it also gives me “Wm”.
    Needs 9 6 8 now. Hm. Odd, as when I was typing that prior post I had been punching in numbers. Perhaps it was picking up context?

    As an aside, free phones with contracts generally suck, anyhow. ;)

    @154, Gahaz, although you may no longer be reading this.
    The fact that a few txt speak stand ins are not a sign of disrespect.
    Actually, it’s not a fact.
    The fact is that while you don’t see it as a sign of disrespect, those of us who disagree, do.

  163. Zaghadka says:

    Oh hell yes. There is no doubt that my phone is teh suxx0rs. ;)

  164. Blackbird71 says:

    Gahaz said:
    “This is my last post on this.”

    Oh really? Because I’d swear you said the same thing several posts back. And oh look, there you are again, post 160.

    “No one seems to actually read nor want to comprehend what I am putting down.”
    You are defending text speak in casual use. Many of us are stating that we do not accept it in that form. Where is the lack of comprehension? It seems that your only defense is attacking your opposition rather than reasoning.

    “The fact that a few txt speak stand ins are not a sign of disrespect. ”
    Just based off of the views expressed in this thread, you appear to be in the minority in your opinion. Wouldn’t that indicate that this is not a “fact,” and as a whole, this is generally considered unacceptable behavior? Or were you somehow granted authority to dictate what is and is not disrespectful to all the world?

    “When casually speaking to someone, say a friend, and you both are jovially talking, laughing as you do, and he talks over something you say. Do you instantly become angry and demand they apologize on the spot?”
    While in casual conversation, speaking over someone in a situation like you describe would not be intentional behavior, and so would not be cause for offense. Using text speak is intentional, and therefore does not relate to your analogy.

    “If you say yes, lord help you keeping friends.”

    My friends have the same views on text speak as I do. We find it demeaning and insulting. We don’t use it because we respect each other, and we communicate just fine without it. You seem to be of the opinion that everyone but me uses text speak, and as such I can never find any friends unless I accept it as valid communication. That’s a huge fallacy built on a faulty premise.

    “Its a social communication. Why does txt speak offend so mightily?”
    Communication requires understanding on both parts. I find it just as offensive as if someone were to speak to me using “baby talk,” it’s either an indication of the speaker’s intelligence, or of the speaker’s opinion of my intelligence. The former I find pitiful, the latter insulting.

    “”Hey man, I had a great time last night at the bar. We should do it again sometime! I loved the bartender, that guy was funny! Btw, did you still want to get lunch tomorrow?”

    Was that offensive, unintelligible, lazy, or disrespectful?”

    Well now let’s see, you’ve significantly toned down the “text speak” used in your previous examples. There’s just the one abbreviation, no numerical substitutions or intentional misspellings. Depending on the medium, I’d easily let this go. If someone were to actually speak to me however, and say “btw” instead of the full words, yes, I’d think they were an idiot.

    “Anyway, I am done.”
    We can only hope.

    “This discussion seems to have settled into me versus a room full of 60 year old UK born English professors that require their friends and family to type up any correspondence in the form of a business letter to talk about their day.”
    Twenty-nine year old, U.S. born electronic engineer here, sorry to blow that theory for you. Just FYI (an abbreviation that has been acceptable use for decasdes before text speak ever hit the scene, so don’t even try basing an argument off of that one), it is possible to have correspondence on a casual level both without business formality and without descending into the inane babble of text speech. Contrary to what you seem to believe, there is middle ground.

    “The txt speakers don't feel that its “less” effort, but a viable alternative when talking with others of the same mindset.”

    You’ve just hit the nail on the head there. In case you haven’t noticed, many of us are not “of the same mindset,” we don’t use it and we don’t appreciate it being directed towards us. By your arguments however, you seem to think that we all should be of the same mindset and accept it. You seem unwilling to accept that there is a significant population that does not care to have this fad imposed upon us.

    “Txt speak is not a chance to lessen the effort of typing, sometimes it takes a little extra effort to use it, but a way they like to type.

    It can be one of a multitude of reasons. Maybe they think its fun or funny, perhaps a whimsical touch to such an impersonal way to communicate. Then again maybe they really want to seem “with it”.”

    As stated before, I don’t have as much of a problem with shortcuts when the medium makes full typing prohibitive. The idea you outline here is my biggest problem, people typing that way not out of convenience, but just to be different and rebellious. It’s not that they can’t type any better, but that they won’t. It’s egotistical, inconsiderate, and flat out rude.

  165. Gahaz says:


    “It's not that they can't type any better, but that they won't. It's egotistical, inconsiderate, and flat out rude.”

    Like taking the time to pick apart someones post line by line to try and tear them down instead of furthering a debate?

    I’m sorry, but like the poorly made Godfather 3, when I start to get out, they drag me back in.

    And lets stop getting tangled in my “60 year old college professor” thing. Is it that hard to understand a little sarcasm? Is it that hard to understand a joke? Perhaps I should have dropped a “jk” or “lol” at the end. Then again, even though it would have helped comprehension I think Blackbird may have gotten angry enough to come find me.

    FYI is socially acceptable now. How did it become that way huh? Overuse in a previous generation to the point that everyone understood it? That situation seems kind of familiar…

  166. Zaghadka says:

    So, Shamus. Any thoughts before you lock this ludicrously long discussion thread? :P

  167. Shawn says:

    Sweet Zombie Jesus!

  168. Gahaz says:

    It is remarkable isn’t Shawn. I’m hoping to tip it to 200, and seeing as how a few people like to keep taking shots at me it seems plausible! :)

  169. Shamus says:

    Zaghadka: Wow. No. I had no idea what I was setting off when I wrote this.

    Others: I know Gahaz is taking up an unpopular position here, but it’s important to debate without insulting Gahaz.

  170. Gahaz says:

    I could snuggle you Shamus. :D

    I would also like to apologize for calling into creation this incredibly large amount of information to be stored on your site.

  171. Zaghadka says:

    Shamus: “Wall of Text” and “Empower, Enlarge, and Extend Spell” = 10th level – “WTF?! 50′ radius.” :P

  172. Terrible says:

    I wonder if the second d100 will be more colorful. Oops, I mean colourful. hehe

  173. ArchU says:

    And then there was silence…

  174. Blackbird71 says:

    Gahaz said:


    “It's not that they can't type any better, but that they won't. It's egotistical, inconsiderate, and flat out rude.”

    Like taking the time to pick apart someones post line by line to try and tear them down instead of furthering a debate?

    I’m sorry, I was under the impression that a “debate” involved addressing and countering the points made by your opponent. I guess your idea of a debate is when everyone just agrees with you.

    I’ve pointed out your fallacies and misconceptions, as well as explained opinions which you seem all too willing to ignore and dismiss as invalid for no other reason than that you deem them to be so. If your only response it to dismiss your own comments as jokes and then ignore the actual points of the discussion, which one of us is not “furthering a debate?”

  175. Gahaz says:

    Sup blackbird,

    Furthering a debate is a completely different thing then trying to take potshots.

    I do not dismiss your points or reasoning. What i do dismiss is the attitude that is present in the way you communicate. It could be your cold text, but it seems your an aggressor. Someone that is out to attack, not defend a standpoint. My points were made about 5 posts in and I have been replying to folks (like yourself) that have seemed to want more correspondence.

    In the end I think most will hopefully find this string an interesting set of comments and possibly something to be smiled upon as such a flame filled post. My fireproof suit was stronger than the flames tossed and stayed my ground even when mean hearted gents like your self put it to me.

    hopefully for future reference visitors will see that you only made one post that laid down “points” and the remainder of your posts were just attacks on me.

    jeez m8, time 2 bury da hatchet ;P

  176. dyrnwyn says:

    I never found any use for punctuation or capitalization. I often ignore it entirely the only time I really use it is on the internet. becouse people are weird there and care or something. I like sentence structure and all that, but i never needed punctuation and I’m actually against the use of indentations. it’s not so much that it saves time or I’m lazy after all I am making an effort to make this legible to those who require punctuation, although most of the punctuation is probably in the wrong spot. I just type as I envision myself speaking I don’t cut my thoughts into little bits and chunk those into larger bits I just talk. An actual literary rendering of my voice in normal conversation would contain vast pauses in the middle of sentences sentences that almost lack spaces and strange misspellings so I type like that becouse it seems natural. although even I have my limits some things I’ve found are so mangled as to defy all logic, but I actually have a really good time decoding these and finding the meaning in the mass of gibberish. I do agree that proper grammar and punctuation and blah blah blah should be used while in a business environment but for any social interactions I don’t see the harm in a little bending of weird obscure rules that (supposedly) make our language eisier to understand. And apparently I really care about this becouse this is the longest post I’ve written, possibly ever.

  177. Tesh says:

    Why did you drop that block of text on my head?

    I have the “editor” gene, and leetspeak gives me a headache. I’m at the point where I just ignore most of it, regardless of whether or not they mean to communicate anything of worth. Of course, I found that to be rare when I still read the messages.

    I’m just a dinosaur, though. I still use two spaces after periods.

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