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.

14 thoughts on “Writing Wednesday – The language of Teen Text

  1. Logan, you are hilarious! Yay for proper grammar and spelling, even in texting. And, hey, good luck with your school papers!

  2. I began my cellphone life agreeing with you. And I still sometimes get uptight about proper grammar and spelling in texting (especially if I don't know the textee very well), but I admit that I use shorthand. If for no other reason than that I don't want to spend fifteen minutes writing out a text that I could have sent off 14 minutes ago if I hadn't had to fix the b that somehow insinuated itself into the word "you."

  3. LOVE this post – I'll do an OMG every once in a while, but that's as close as I get – my hubs laughs that I make sure my contractions have apostrophes in my texts πŸ™‚ Gayle Forman did a post on a site a little while back on how she doesn't do teenspeak either.

  4. @Catherine – Thank you! I need some luck to pull this off!@Ruby – I know! It definitely slows me down, but for some reason I just can't bring myself to do it.@Linds – I'm going to look for that Gayle Forman post! Thanks!!

  5. Hmm, I use lol and I never thought there was anything wrong with capitalizing it. I see people do that all the time. I guess I just learned something.

  6. *waves*I'm guilty. Beyond guilty. Funny thing is that it drives me crazy too, but I still do it. But I'm not as bad as my little sister, who is actually a teen. Her face book page is completely unreadable. I don't get it. I remember that post Linds is referring too. Good stuff. Now get to writing that assignment. *drums fingers*

  7. I am guilty of using "teen text" only on rare occasions when I'm in a big old hurry. I use lol a ton though, sorry! :0 Even worse I usually am guilty of capitalizing it!

  8. I most definitely canNOT do teen text. Just can't. I don't even write it in my books, and I justify that by the fact that there are auto-correct spelling functions in the newer phones. So it doesn't forever to spell out an entire word because the phone does it for you! Therefore, phooey on teen text and YAY for correct spelling and grammar. Even if everyone will forget how to spell because the phone is doing it for you… πŸ™‚

  9. R u srs? Just kidding, I'm right there with you, cannot stand it. The furtherest I'll go is the occasional lol, and I use that only when I have actually, physically laughed out loud. Less funny jokes get a 'haha.' It will be interesting to see where this slang goes in the next decade or two πŸ™‚

  10. I *am* a teen and I don't speak, or usually understand, Teen Text. My peers may as well be texting me in Portugese. I'm sadly dependent on emoticons, though, generally because it takes me forever and a day to write out, exactly, in full, grammatically-correct, punctuated sentences, and a quick "xD" gets my point across just as well. I've become a faster texter for it, though. -Ponders-

  11. I am guilty of teen text when texting. I do find myself wondering what some of it means though! I often think…they had to have made this up on the fly! But as an English teacher, when it appears in my students' works… I ALL BUT SCREAM! haha They have a hard time understanding why they can't use it!

  12. Stay strong Logan! I refuse to speak teen text. I used to edit and tutor students (including graduate students…and doctoral students) and you wouldn't believe how many school assignments had text speech in it! My heart broke on a daily basis with that job. I've finally broken and will use an lol or OMG occasionally. Mostly because I feel dorky writing "haha" or something like that. I'm guilty of capitalizing my LOLs. *hides in shame* I do it because I'm trying to convey laughing a lot. And also because it bugs me to start a sentence with a lowercase letter, but I thin it looks unbalanced if the first l is capitalized and then the rest of the letters aren't. So, um, if you see my all-caps LOLs, just know it's a combination of my exuberant laughter and neuroticism. πŸ™‚

  13. I actually like it sometimes because I am a hopeless speller (yes, an English teacher can SUCK at spelling) so when I can't remember how to spell something I just leave out some letters and pretend it's textspeak.

  14. I should clarify that I don't mind OMG or LOL or FML or kthxbye or any number of other forms of shorthand. Acronyms and lolspeak I'm okay with (for some reason). It's the "R U coming 2nite?" Nails on a chalkboard for me. Also, the lol thing. My sister made a big joke out of it with her boyfriend where they said LOL is like yelling HAHAHA at someone but lol is like coy cute giggling. It makes us laugh, and ever since then I can't help but keep it to a lowercase lol. But I really don't care either way it's used. I just snort at the idea that LOL = shout laughing.

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