The “Text” in “Text Message”

Sometimes writers tend to go a little overboard in their obsession with writing the perfect sentence. For me, this obsession becomes clear when I send text messages to my friends. Not only are they free from abbreviations (for the most part), but they also have proper grammar and punctuation. There are some people who send text messages entirely in abbreviations and other shorthand, while majority of us use a combination of proper language and the occasional shorthand and abbreviation. With the rise of the text message, there are some who are adamant that language is being destroyed the more widespread it gets.

As mentioned, I use traditional language when writing a text message, though I must admit that I like to use the occasional “btw” or “atm”. I could say that I use traditional language because typing out the shorthand takes too long, but the whole truth is that I find the shorthand very frustrating. It’s hard to decipher unless you already know what the abbreviation means, and a lot of the time, autocorrect will change it to a similar word anyway. So, by the time you fix the abbreviation, you could have written it out normally and sent it already. What’s more important, though, is that it really does destroy language bit by bit.

You lose the emotion – or worse, get confused – without proper punctuation like exclamation points, question marks, or periods. Sentences run together in one giant text message bubble and you can’t tell where one thought ends and another begins, not to mention how the other person is feeling. You may unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings because you responded incorrectly to their text message filled with anger, which you had understood as excitement. Or, you didn’t respond to their question because you hadn’t realized they were asking one. These kinds of misunderstandings can lead to fights both on and off the phone, and could be prevented by correctly using a question mark or comma.

If you are texting on the run or trying to get a reply quickly, it’s understandable that punctuation and traditional spelling aren’t your biggest concerns. But, if you send texts entirely composed of abbreviations and no grammar what-so-ever for no reason other than not wanting to type the full word out, you’re missing out on the gifts that language can give you.

The most important one is that you won’t accidentally put shorthand into an essay or a grant proposal. You’d be surprised how easily they slip past your editing radar when you’re used to using them all the time. Secondly, you’ll remember how to spell more words and remember more grammar than the person who regularly uses shorthand. Lastly, you’ll have a higher chance of being understand and/or replied to by everyone on your contacts list because they won’t need Google to hep understand what you’re saying.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for shorthand, but generally speaking, traditional language and grammar will take you much further.

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Image Credit: icbengaynor.tumblr.com (via Google) A little dramatic, perhaps, but you get the idea.

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