Chat Txt: An Older form of Writing

Every now and again, I read news stories about how the “chat” is changing language, and as with many language stories, I end up shaking my head in disbelief at how little linguistics society has absorbed. So here’s my take:
1) Most of the new “chat” language is really a new set of abbreviations. Although there is a change in slang, it’s not really a profound structural change. Many industries abbreviate at the drop of a hat.
2) Whenever you have limited space or time to get a message through, you will get abbreviations. Thus, we have telegraph speech (e.g. SOS for “Save Our Ship) and various forms of shorthand, not to mention weird DOD (Defense) acronyms like NATO, RADAR and NORAD. It’s also a fun way to confuse outsiders (like civilians and parents).
Ironically, many abbreviations can be longer in speech than the “long form.” Take the ER (emergency room) jargon GSW (gun shot wound.) In speech “gun shot wound” has 3 syllables, but the abbreviation “G-S-double-U” actually has 5 syllables. It was a little cumbersome and had to be repeated (and clarified) by the intake coordinator.
Another case of this was a recent cell phone commercial where a poor mother was trying to spit out each letter for TISNF (That is so not fair!).
This is one reason IMHO that I don’t worry about teenager speech patterns just because ISALOA (I see a lot of abbreviations). I just remind them to spell it out on actual assignments to be turned in.
3) BTW (By the way) the oldest forms of writing are often full of weird abbreviations. The Old Irish liked to save manuscript space by using abbreviations like “.i.” (or “i.e.”, the Latin abbreviation of “id est” or “that is”) and “7” (corresponding to modern “&” or “and”. It’s enough to make researchers WTTTHO (want to tear their hair out).
4) BIF (Before I forget), it should be noted that our alphabet started life as a Semitic consonant-only system (and it’s still consonant only in Hebrew and Arabic). So…drpng cnsnts isn’t tht wrd ithr.
No, what’s really unusual is a writing system that fully spells out each word and includes a robust punctuation system. So for that, I do thank our grammarian friends for standardizing long-form English spelling in most cases.

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