Vs. Text Message Abbreviations

Posted: May 11, 2011 in Language, Reader's Suggestion
Tags: , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  My thanks to R. Washington for suggesting this week’s topic (speaking of which, what does that “R” stand for?  Very suspicious for someone who claims to have an issue with abbreviations…)

I’m not a texter – don’t have the thumbs for it.  McBee’s have notoriously weak thumbs…we almost never review movies and we’re terrible hitchhikers.

Texting on a keyboard phone

Image via Wikipedia

 And, as a writer, I simply can’t endorse all of the texting abbreviations that mangle our language.  Plus, as someone who is 28 years old or older (hint, it’s “or older”), I don’t understand any of it.

So I did a little internet work and found a site that listed all of these abbreviations…there were thousands of them.  But I’ll just examine a few.

How about ALOL.  This stands for, “Actually laughing out loud.”  And I think it makes an important point.  ALOL is necessary because everyone knows that when someone types LOL, they’re rarely actually LOLing.  This shortened way of communicating is fast – but rarely genuine.  How can you trust someone who communicates all of their feelings in this ridiculous shorthand?  Soon ALOL won’t be enough.  Maybe we should try NSTTIRLOL – “No, seriously, this time I’m really laughing out loud.”

And text messaging abbreviations are so impersonal.  Nothing says you care like this actual abbreviation – HHTYAY (“Happy holidays to you and yours”).  Text messaging…when you care enough to spend two seconds showing them how you feel.

Here’s another – d00d.  That’s the “abbreviation” for dude.  Yeah.  And mythspeleng is the abbreviation for misspelling.

The site also listed this helpful abbreviation – 2B or not 2B.  I don’t have any idea when this is used.  I suppose it’s useful for all of those Shakespearean scholars looking to save a tenth of a second in their communications.  O Romeo, Romeo where4 art thou Romeo?

Title page of the First Folio, by William Shak...

Image via Wikipedia

 How about CAAC?  Cool as a cucumber.  This one hasn’t been used as much since the fifties.  Yep, little known fact, text messaging was all the rage in the fifties.  dde0, ths sok^ iz 4equalsidesvll.  (“Daddy-O, this sock hop is squaresville.”)

One of the few that I actually like is CRTLA – “Can’t remember the three letter acronym.”  For those times when you need a succinct way to communicate the fact that you’ve forgotten how to communicate in a succinct way.

Lastly, some of the oddest that I found were 143, 459, and 831, all of which mean, “I love you.”  I wonder how these things get started, the first couple of times someone uses a new abbreviation it must take more time as they have to explain what they’re talking about.

“143, 459, 831, baby.”


“It means I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“What are u talking about?”

“They’re love abbreviations that I invented for us. 143 means I love you because the first word has 1 letter, the second word has 4 letters and the third word has 3 letters.  459 means I love you because the I is on the 4 on the keypad, the L is on the 5 and the Y is on the 9.  831 means I love you because it’s 8 letters, three words and one meaning.  I love you, baby.”



“I think we should see other people.”

SHAIGTDI? (So, how am I going to do it?)  How will I stop pre-teens everywhere from shortening our words until there’s nothing left?  I fear it may be too late to teach them to text differently.  So, I’ll attack this problem from a different angle.  I am going to create a program that converts text message abbreviations into normal English.  If I can’t get them to write correctly, perhaps I can, at least, keep them from forgetting how to read correctly.

And we have to convince the youth of today that it’s not always about speed.  Some things are worth taking the time.  Instead of finding the best way to shorten a word, maybe you should think about finding the best word – the best way to say what you mean.  Because, ultimately, it’s not the size of your words, it’s how you use them.

  1. Abbie says:

    AWESOME. I have friends who have children in their teens and they add q’s and other letters and I think it’s some kind of code. We should totally be using them for our covert operations overseas, I’d like them to get a code-talker that could break it, because I sure don’t understand. And ever since I got a phone with a qwerty keyboard, I usually don’t abbreviate unless I’m trying to fit the text into one 160 keystroke text.

  2. Brady says:




  3. heathersnyder1 says:

    Hahahaha! (Or should I say LOL!) If I want to LMAO-I really want to Laugh My Ass Off-I don’t want to have to abbreviate it.

    I love this one. So true! Sounds like to tell someone you love them is like putting out an APB on a Police Scanner. “All Officers in the area, we got a 143 in progress!” “OMG he is totally in 459”.

  4. heathersnyder1 says:

    Ooops, sorry. I don’t know why my comments showed up twice! I guess I will have to sit back and LMAO about it. I am ROFL right now as I type, except for ROFL while typing on a computer is very hard to do.

  5. Elizabeth Dodd says:

    This blog is your greatest triumph yet!
    I belong in the very “or older” bracket and have a hard time deciphering text messages. Especially the ones who just make up their own phrases!
    It may be a fad, or the latest thing to do, but it is having sad consequences. When I went to school, they taught Shorthand. (Now you can put me into an age group!) Shorthand is made up of symbols that represent the fastest way to spell a word, or the way it is pronounced. And there are short phrases. For example: “example” would be spelled “xmpl” All that has a purpose–to later translate into readable text for letters, or books, etc.
    The sad thing about all this now is that the young people are applying for jobs and filling out applications using the text spelling and phrases! Somewhere along the line we have sadly failed our youth. They are not taught the necessary skills to survive in todays world.
    Don’t you think we need to take this into consideration and correct this very pressing matter?
    Today I am serious–not LOL’ing!!
    Thanks for letting me express my view on this matter!

  6. April says:

    Maybe, the world is trending toward a minimalist lifestyle. Here are 26 letters. Use as few as possible. However, the potential for a literary masterpiece composed from alphabet soup is greatly increased.

    • Makya McBee says:

      Abbie – You should tell those teens to mind their p’s and q’s…and the only problem with using these abbreviations for covert operations is that the teens in other countries would be able to decipher them, last thing I need is some commie teen reading my texts.
      Brady – Well put. I couldn’t agree more. Or understand less.
      Heather – When you say APB, do you mean an all points bulletin? Okay, I’ll let you get away with that abbreviation, I suppose not all abbreviations are bad. And a “143 in progress?”…that sounds so romantic…
      Elizabeth – I’m glad this one resonated. Feel free to use it as an xmpl to others. I tutor part time and will do my best to address your issues.
      April – I’ve got nothing against minimalism – as long as it’s legible. Brevity, they say, is the soul of wit. (Although I’ve always felt that there should be a shorter way to say that).

  7. Thank you Makya McBee for Vs. Text Message Abbreviations. I have some catching up to do with the rest of your stories, I will read right after this one. I was on vacation, I do away with cell phone and internet and I’m really on vacation.

    I am so glad you are taking on text message abbreviations. It’s not just with text messages, but Instant Messaging. Regular commenting and yes, I have heard and seen resumes handed in with text abbreviations. These kids don’t know when to put the cell phone down. Whether at the dinner table, the movies or plays and at home while watching TV. When will this all end?

    Oh, by the way, it’s Robin. I had to put rwashington because RobinWashington was already taken in gmail. Interestingly enough a lot of other variations on Robin Washington were taken. Which means either I’ve been cloned or someone has stolen my identity. Can I get an LOL here?

    • Makya McBee says:

      Nice to meet you, Robin. rwashington was so impersonal…and hard to pronounce. But identity theft is no LOLing matter. Cloning’s kind of funny though.

  8. Purple Chimp says:

    143 and 831 could easily mean “I hate you”, “I push you” or “I lick you”.

  9. college4kids says:

    I think that teens should have a voice in this debate, I mean they are the ones holding the cellphones. I do use abeviations when I txt and so do my friends. If you are older and you can’t read omg or lol it is time you learn how to read it or don’t txt at all. 🙂

    • Makya McBee says:

      I remember when I was a teenager…and I thought I should have a voice…good times. I will warn you, Samuel Morse said the same thing when he created his code, “Learn my dots and dashes or you can’t sail.” And just look at what happened to him…actually, I have no idea what happened to him. But you see what I’m saying, right? Go Cardinals?

      • ravolution says:

        Brilliant! As a young adult i’m swayed by both sides of the argument, going to have to SOTF for this one (abbreviations always make much more sense in context). Part of the beauty of the english language is that it’s constantly evolving with words coming into and going out of circulation. Maybe LOL’s and ROFL’s are a cause for celebration.
        I just sent my gf a txt saying 831 and after the explanation she loved it. Kinda sweet.
        Congrats on being FP’ed!

      • Makya McBee says:

        Context helps, I would never have known that meant “sit on the fence” otherwise. And, yes, I’m pro evolving language. I don’t mind new words – but are these words? And I’m more concerned with the notion of the youngsters not first learning what it is they’re abbreviating. Nevertheless, TFCMOBFP. (Good luck with that).

  10. Laura4NYC says:

    So, hows that program of yours going so far?
    This is good, I am psyched to see that I am 24 or so ( with the emphasis on 24, of course) and am not the only one in their twens (right??!) who is having issues with advanced technology that is way overboard and unnecessary.

  11. haha you know i’m a fellow texter, but sometimes even I can’t get all the abbreciations. I was weak when you wrote ITWSSOP. Very inventive. But its funny what people come up with.

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