back to article Txt-speak is a sign of humanity 4 U

It barely warranted a mention in Reg Hardware's recent Retro Week, but mobile telephony will be celebrating a couple of anniversaries this year. Groupe Spécial Mobil (GSM) was founded 30 years ago and the first commercial GSM networks came into service ten years later. First text More significantly for what old farts call ' …


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  1. Code Monkey

    Generation gap

    The generation gap is an interesting one. Most people I tend to text use proper English - punctuation even. But after my niece taught my mum to text, so it took many years of moaning before she finally stopped using Teenage Gibberish (aka txtSpkLOL or whatever it's called).

    A happy side effect is that having to use Proper English she sends me fewer texts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Generation gap

      The one that always amuses me is the shorthand grafitti date. Prior 2010 kids were scrawling 2Kx, where x is the year, saves a character I suppose. Now they're stuck with it and you get 2K10 and 2K12! Why bother, surely it's quicker to spray a zero?!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course, a large proportion of "txt-spk" was common parlance on USENET a genertaion before the "yoof" invented it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: USENET

      Quite right, my daughter was aghast the first time her grandmother lol'd her by text. I had to explain to her that - relatively to her, she was 10 at the time - "old people" had made up what was now txtspeech.

      Getting your point across with the absolute least amount of effort will never go out of style.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Also other pre-internet sources.

      I remember txtspk being in common usage in the Compunet chat room in 1984-5, and am pretty sure it was also commonplace on other BBSen that offered interactive chat services.

      (When the first SMS phones came out, I was still calling it chatspeak.)

      1. Andrew Garrard

        Re: Also other pre-internet sources.

        From the Jargon File:

        "Hackers, as a rule, love wordplay and are very conscious and inventive in their use of language. These traits seem to be common in young children, but the conformity-enforcing machine we are pleased to call an educational system bludgeons them out of most of us before adolescence."

        Hence the profusion of this kind of stuff in early usenet (it's not like "ROTFLMAAOBPO" is quicker than typing "ha ha") and the tendency for each generation, as with sex, to think they invented it.

        I've occasionally been known to resort to it in order to make a couple of characters' difference between different numbers of text messages (especially when texting a broad). It might have been an option on the phones I had with qwerty keyboards, but since my first phone had T9 and the most recent ones use Swype, entering anything other than real words is always more of a hindrance than a help.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Also other pre-internet sources.

          That's a bit sexist innit?

  3. Mage Silver badge


    A lot of Txt Spk is identical to that of 1840s and later.

    They only had one button

    Mines the one with a straight key in the pocket.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Good point

      I'd forgotten about the iTelegraph.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Telegraph

      Dah-di-dah-dah dit di-dah-dah-dit, dah-di-di-dit di-di-dah dah, di-dah-dah di-di-di-dit di-dah dah, di-dit di-di-dit, dah-dah-dah di-dah-di-dit dah-di-dit, di-dit di-di-dit, dah-dit dit di-dah-dah, di-dah dah-dah-dit di-dah di-dit dah-dit.

      Okay I admit I had Wikipedia up to help me with some of that (I knew the easy ones like E, T, ...etc), but I know more CW now then I did when I first sat for my radio license exam back in 2007.

      I don't use text speak, I figure if the other end is to understand my efforts to communicate, I might as well make it easy and unambiguous for them to understand so I don't have to repeat the exercise with clarifications. Mobile operators would go broke with the amount of texting I do!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Telegraph

      As a result of this post, when one of my mates accidentally texted me nothing but a lone full-stop the other day, I replied in morse.

      Thought he was offering me an 'E'.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never use text speak. Simply because I don't want people to think I'm a complete flake, like I think of those who do use it.

    Usually because they can not spell! Neither could their parents, or their parents are typical Brit, and don't give a SHITE about them.

    If my children use poor grammar/spelling I'll tell them how stupid and scummy they come across. Let the spivs indulge, they should raise the standard and be 1 step ahead.

    1. Paul Naylor
      Thumb Up

      Hear hear!

      Old bean.

    2. Hieronymus Howerd

      >> "be 1 step ahead"

      The irony.

  5. skellious

    As a recent member of this "yoof"...

    I can honestly say that, 2 friends aside, I've never seen anyone I know use so-called "txt-spk" and tend to believe it to be largely an invention of the mass-media, started when an outraged telegraph editor got a text from his chavvy second-cousin.

    Myself and the vast majority of my 200+ friends and acquaintances all use full, standard English when texting, using facebook, emailing or anywhere else. Why would we abbreviate? We can type fast enough on a phone to not need to do so. I, for example, can hit 40wpm without trying and 80 with effort (using a familiar predictive text dictionary on a standard T9 system). Why then is there so much "txt-spk" that adults are exposed to? My guess is that it is the older generation who cannot type fast enough on a phone to avoid using it. Certainly one of the two people who use it that I know is my mother and she definitely did not learn it from either myself nor my sister.

    Now, it may well be that I have just gotten lucky but so far I have to conclude that 'reports of text speak have been greatly exaggerated.'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As a recent member of this "yoof"...

      No one has 200+ friends.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: As a recent member of this "yoof"...

        No, but they may have 200+ friends and acquaintances. Notice there was no specification of how many of the 200 fell into each category.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    Txt shite

    I really hate it, I detest it on forums and join in the hounding of the person responsible.

    And the abbreviations are stupid.

    B4 - I know what that is - a railway bogie

    UR - I always think of the Urs from the Uplift books

  7. Steve Renouf


    By the time you've finished farting around with the mouse to navigate through the menus to select the printer, the format etc, to print a document, I'll have printed it using the keyboard and be on my second cup of coffee!

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Really!?!

      Using a mouse to access a printer dialogue would be silly.

    2. illiad

      Re: Really!?!

      Hmmmm? I just move the mouse to the printer icon and click, all done!... no stretching your fingers out to find the right key combination!!!!

  8. That Steve Guy

    I cannot use txt speak

    My smartphone won't let me, it keeps popping up with real words!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I cannot use txt speak

      That's a mixed blessing though - I got a text from my boss a couple of weeks ago apologising for a preceeding and completely incomprehensible message that went something like 'furtive spellcraft can t turning of'.....

  9. ravenviz

    "At this point, my trousers fell down and the vicar walked in"


  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Mice helped by software.

    >' remember the ridiculous Logitech NuLOOQ, anyone?'

    Logitech ceased supporting it and offered refunds or discounts against the 3D Connexion SpaceNavigator (no surprise, it's a Logitech company). The SpaceNavigator isn't designed to replace the mouse, but supplement it, and is very well supported in the 3D CAD sector.

    Though to be honest, a normal mouse with a scroll wheel and a few extra buttons (to modify mouse movement from cursor-move to view-rotate) handles 3D navigation efficiently enough for me, but I'm sure that others find 3-axis pan, tilt and rotate dead handy.

    Mice are good, but why are 'pie menus' so rare outside of CAD apps and games? After all, they are quick, accurate, easy to learn because the options are graphically represented, and easy to retain due to muscle memory. Also, they work as well for WIMPs as they do for touch-based UIs...

    And on similar note, why do "Are you sure you want to.. ?" dialogue never appear anywhere near my cursor? Almost all software is guilty is this.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear
      Thumb Up

      Re: Mice helped by software.

      Ah, freaky wierd arse 3D mouse things!

      A mate had the misfortune to spend 18 months working on a Sun workstation of some description that came with an outlandish fist-sized mushroom shaped device in place of a mouse. I think it had five buttons plus pan, tilt and rotate. It was intended for CAD work I assume, but we could never get it to work properly (read: we were to lazy to work out how to get the extra functions working) and the CAD monkey operator couldn't come to terms with it. I don't blame him, the combination of shape and colour was disturbing to a sensitive, creative type.

      So we gave it to Reg (let's call him Reg 'cause that is his name) because it had cost a lot of money and we couldn't throw it out. Now, Reg could never be described as sensitive and it turned out he wasn't too lazy to work out the strange scripting language used to customise the damn thing either. Once he got it set up with macros, auto-text, modal changes, conditional functions and the like he was like a demon

      Fast forward to the end of project and starting a new contract: Reg walks in and is presented with a brand new and very flash Power Mac. Sits down, places hand on mouse and realises with horror it has only one button...

  11. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Oral sex? Really?

    As much as I understand why "CU 4 8" indeed does read "You are not worthy of 20 seconds of my very precious time, deal with it, bitch", the oral sex part of it eludes me. Care to elaborate?

    1. Shonko Kid

      Re: Oral sex? Really?

      I can't see it either, I'm obviously not 'yoof enuf'

      4 8 == fellate?

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Oral sex? Really?

      No idea. My GP at the time was a bloke.

      1. LinkOfHyrule
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Oral sex? Really?

        Maybe its doctor's medical notes shorthand for a promiscuous male with a history of oral herpes or something?

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: Oral sex? Really?

        > No idea. My GP at the time was a bloke.

        Oh I see. So he must have read it as the slightly less common variant:

        "You are not worthy of 20 seconds of my very precious time, deal with it, bitch. And suck my dick."

  12. Simon Harris Silver badge


    Two Ronnies

    'Nuff said!

  13. Stevie Silver badge


    This so-called txt-speak was alive and kicking years before the advent of the LSI chips that would mutate into CMOS tech that ultimately made portable clevers possible.

    We used it back in 1978 to communicate between the console ops and the programming pool in order to save time.

  14. DungeonBoy

    The vicar and trouser line sounds like something from bleak expectations

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bleak Expectations is great, don't get me wrong, but no.

      The vicar+trousers thing is a reference to the grand old English theatrical tradition of bedroom farce. As epitomised by the great (yet imaginary) classic, "Whoops, Vicar, are those your sausages?"

  15. JohnathonZaro


    "If you were to give these txters an on-screen Qwerty keyboard, they would slow down."

    Yes, because their thumbs take up the entire width of their touchscreen and they hit the wrong key (or several keys) often...

    If you wonder why there are overpriced stylus sold-separately as an accessory for some touchscreens, now you know. An unclicked pen may suffice though...

    1. illiad

      Re: Qwerty

      you dont need to buy a special 'capacitive stylus' !!

      just get some of those antistat bags that PC stuff comes in.. roll it up into a 'pen-shape'.. works great!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Qwerty

        Genius! You could make a styles that lives as a sheet against the back of the phone, and rolls into a stylus when peeled off.

  16. jungle_jim

    LNK CR B82REZ 2g4

    B 8 2 REZ - Be at er rez, batterez, me was trying to save time

    1. yoinkster
      Thumb Up

      Re: LNK CR B82REZ 2g4

      je mapel Ali eh ja beet in STAINES.

  17. dynamight

    ...and it's

    Vodafone, not Vodaphone.

  18. MJI Silver badge

    Stupid text

    I have seen words longer in txt than writing them properly

  19. John H Woods

    Lots of love

    Grandma has died. LOL.

    1. dogged

      Re: Lots of love

      My mum does that. Always freaks me out.

  20. Anonymous Noel Coward


    Trying not to hunt you down and beat you to death with a dictionary...

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