'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
SUM PEEPS H8 TXT MSG SHRTHND
Text messaging is all the rage among young people these days. (Or I should say, “txt msg b gr8.”)
A whole new language of shorthand and acronyms now exists to streamline the text messaging process. Kids as young as 5th grade can fire off messages to each other with blazing speed as their little thumbs deftly dance across the tiny cell phone keyboards.
Here’s an example of a typical text message, written in official text message shorthand: “fanC a jacuZ, BubLE, chocl@ & a gr8 @mosfER bak @ mp?”
No, this string of text is not the result of a blind chimpanzee randomly slapping at a keyboard. It actually has a very specific meaning for those who are young enough to understand the language (that is, not you and definitely not me). Here is the translation: “Fancy a Jacuzzi, champagne, chocolate and a great atmosphere back at my place?”
Presumably this provocative invitation would not be sent by a 5th grade boy to a girl in his class, because as we all know, school children nowadays are being taught that chocolate is evil. All the other stuff mentioned in the message is fine. Of course, based on news reports in recent years, it just might be the text message sent from a 35-year-old teacher to one of her 16-year-old students.
I discovered a Web site that offers a translation service for text message shorthand. The middle of the Web page said, “2 undrstnd txt Msgs, Jst Typ Yr Msg in d bx”, which means, “To understand text messages, just type your message in the box.”
For example, when I typed in, “ur d 6yest ting n dis wrld,” the translation was, “You are the sexiest thing in this world.” (It also noted: “Someone your age shouldn’t be sending this message.”)
“TTT sez ff R gr8!” means, “Tony the Tiger says Frosted Flakes are great!”
Just for fun, I copied and pasted a portion of one of Joe Biden’s speeches into the translation box, and here was the result: “No discernable meaning. Most likely the result of a blind chimpanzee randomly slapping at a keyboard.”
People like me, who consider ourselves to be in the robust prime of life, where knowledge and experience combine with worldly wisdom to provide a clear and unshakeable understanding of the human condition—that is, those of us middle-aged schlubs who sit around all day complaining about rude young people—often wonder why these youngsters are compelled to mangle the English language. For crying out loud, they can type so fast with their thumbs, why don’t they simply spell out the words properly?
Well, let’s not forget that even those of us who never use cryptic text message shorthand often use abbreviations when we communicate. Consider this paragraph:
A GI took AMTRAK to NYC for some R&R. But at a BYOB party, everything got FUBAR when someone slipped LSD into his G&T. His lost his wallet, so the poor SOB was SOL, and ended up being AWOL. When he finally got back to the base, he was busted to PFC and had KP for months, plus extra PT with a screaming DI. He also was ordered to attend AA meetings ASAP to avoid another SNAFU, otherwise his career would be RIP.
By the way, this topic was suggested to me by my father, who pointed out all those military acronyms. So I want to say, “KUTGW bg Bil hng w hmis n d BL wchN JJ.” (Which means, “Keep up the good work, Big Bill, hanging with your homies in the Barca-Lounger watching Judge Judy.”)
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