Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 13, 2012
When teens talk like they text, we might have a problem

To say the English language is changing would be an understatement. Some might find this hard to believe, but there was once a time when every word was actually used in its entirety.

Of course, it wasn’t too bad when people began shortening their words using now-accepted contractions — a rather unnecessary shortcut, but it made things convenient.

Acronyms, too, for such entities as businesses, schools and organizations seem like valid uses of shortened English, as do common abbreviations for titles such as Mr. and Mrs.

However, nothing could have fully prepared the world for the bizarre evolution of texting-speak.

I say bizarre because, truly, the turn that texting language has taken is puzzling. When cell phones and texting became popular, it wasn’t any wonder that a shortened, distorted form of written English came into being. It used numbers rather than letters, substituted letters for whole words, and — omg — transformed entire phrases into acronyms.

However, texting-speak is a whole other animal. When nearly every word is spoken as an abbreviation (i.e., ppl, crzy/cray cray, legit, fam, totes, def, probs, prolly) or an acronym (i.e. ily, nbd, lol, rofl, fml, wth, yolo, brb) there might be a problem. When teens think having a traditional verbal conversation — excuse me, “convo” — takes too long without these shortcuts, I wonder where we’re heading.

I can’t pinpoint the first time I heard someone yell, “Lol!” (“laugh out loud”) in the hallway — not to be confused with the actual English word “lull” — but I do remember wondering how it was possible that we had become a generation too lazy to even actually laugh out loud when something amused us.

When “legit,” the shortened version of “legitimate,” became popular, it didn’t seem too troublesome. However, as it became “legit-ly” it was more worrisome. Is it really so imperative to save ourselves two syllables of dialogue that we take a chunk out of a word?

Sometimes I wonder how, if I sometimes receive texts that I do not understand as a 17-year-old in public high school, anyone older than 20 can understand a word we say. Entire websites have been created for just such people to aid in translating this new texting lingo — surely soon to be classified as a foreign language.

It shocks me that such methods are necessary. Suddenly those who thought they had spoken English their whole lives are finding themselves confused and stumped by the rapidly spreading, multiplying terms of those pesky teenagers.

Oddly, this new language form is contagious. The more exposure someone has to it, the easier it is to slip into the habit of shouting “yolo!” (“you only live once”) at the end of particularly death-defying or disgusting experiences, or shortening the once meaningful sentiment, “I love you” to the marginally less meaningful “ily” when saying goodbye.

Then again, who’s to say that all of this language morphing is bad? Look at Shakespeare or Dr. Seuss. Perhaps this new trend is nothing short of revolutionary.


Siera Gomez is a senior at Stansbury High School.

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