Writing Wednesday – The language of Teen Text

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Welcome to Writing Wednesday, my weekly feature where I discuss my works in progress, project ideas, editing struggles, or anything else related to the world of writing. Feel free to grab my button and post your own thoughts on writing! Leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll stop by.


Today we’re going to pretend that I am most certainly not freaking out about my final papers due next week. We’re also going to pretend that I did not ask for an extension in my writing class because I *cough* haven’t written anything *cough* to turn in just yet because I *cough* also haven’t done any editing *cough*. Ahem. I must be coming down with something.

So instead I’m going to talk about this condition I have. It’s somewhat serious. It’s not life-changing, but it can impact my life negatively. It has been known to cause comparatively sluggish text responses. It often results in excessive use of the backspace key. It also can impair my enjoyment of Twitter.

What I mean to say is, I absolutely, positively cannot speak what I will affectionately term “Teen Text.”

Call it text shorthand, call it simply slang. Call it whatever you want, but don’t ask me to write it. Hell, half the time I can’t even read it. This coming from a girl at the ripe young age of 29.

Every time I get a text from a friend with “u” where I should read “you,” I cringe. I cast no judgment, because I get that it is infinitely easier to communicate in the finite limits of texts and tweets with abbreviated forms. I simply lack the ability to use it.

I’ve tried to adopt this shorthand for myself from time to time, but each new venture ends in hurried backspacing and glances over my shoulder to make sure the Grammar Police didn’t catch me. It just looks so wrong, and after spending nearly two decades practicing correct typing, grammar, and spelling, I just can’t bring myself to use Teen Text.

Is it really that much harder to type in sentences? To me, this small act of rebellion is my way of refusing to acknowledge this trend as some kind of game-changer for language. Language will always evolve in ways both strange and economical, but by refusing to make Teen Text a part of my every day life, I like to think I can keep English from making the perilous leap from “you” to “u.”

Because I am the great and powerful Oz. My influence knows no bounds.

This is not to suggest that I can’t throw around a good “lol” every now and again. (Never “LOL” since, as my sister pointed out, What, are you shout laughing?) And I canz lolspeak with the best of them. So why my irritation with Teen Text? I guess it must be this (perhaps) misguided fear that language could take a turn for the worst if we all adopt this manner of communicating. I am the lone holdout, burying my head in the sand as the world evolves around me.

Or perhaps Teen Text is just the Riggs to my Murtough, and I’m just getting too old for this $*@!.

Do you speak Teen Text? Lolspeak? Have any hangups about using either? Talk to me, Goose.

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