Take a look around you when you are walking through the city, on public transport, in a restaurant, or even driving, and you can be sure that you will see a person using a mobile phone. They are playing games, flicking through Facebook, taking selfies, and chatting. But this in not the type of chatting you do whenyou are face-to-face with your friends. This is SMS Language or CHATSPEAK.
Early mobile phones users had to be very inventive to fit everything they wanted to say into a single, 160 character message (SMS’s used to be expensive to send!). It also made texting and chatting faster, especially with the tiny keypads those phones had.
Let’s start with some simple examples. If a single letter or digit (or even symbol) sounds like the complete word, we just use that letter:
be = b
see = c
are = r
you = u
why = y
to, too = 2
for = 4
ate = 8
at = @
These single letters could be combined to create other words, or even phrases:
b4 = before
4u = for you
ez = easy
cul8r = see you later
gr8 = great
As mobile phones and the internet became more and more popular, the CHATSPEAK ‘dictionary’ became larger and larger. Users became more inventive and the method of typing long words and phrases as short stings of one-to-five letters or numbers emerged. They created a short, quick, and easy way to express an emotion or write something in chat.
Let’s look at small selection of common ACRONYMS used in chatspeak with examples:
AFAIK = As Far As I Know AFAIK, he isn’t coming 2 the party.
ATM = At The Minute I am busy ATM.
BRB = Be Right Back There is someone at the door, BRB.
BTW = By The Way BTW, did u hear about Tim?
FYI = For Your Information FYI, I was at the party, u didn’t c me.
G2G = Got To Go Time 2 go 2 work, G2G.
IDK = I Don’t Know IDK what time the train is at.
IMHO = In My Honest Opinion IMHO u looked bttr with short hair.
LMAO = Laughing My Ass Off It was so funny I was LMAO.
LOL = Laugh Out Loud LOL, ur so funny.
MYOB = Mind Your Own Business I’m not telling u, MYOB.
NSFW = Not Safe For Work B careful with these pictures, they r NSFW.
TGIF = Thank Goodness It’s Friday TGIF! It’s been a hard week!
TTYL = Talk To You Later G2G. TTYL.
As you can see, chatspeak was a great way of saving your precious characters and allowed you to fit a lot more information into a short message. It seems like creativity is the only limit, and the ability of your chat partner to understand what you were trying to say to them!
Hopefully this short insight into the type of language used in online chat will help you understand some of the language shortcuts used on the internet. If you are interested in finding out more, searching for ‘text message language’ online with bring up thousands of results and examples. But be warned, some of them are very NSFW!