Sexy online typing chatroom
It has now reached the stage where my computer will not allow me to type the colon, dash and bracket without automatically turning it into a picture of a smiling face. It began with some fairly obvious and relatively inoffensive abbreviations: 'tks' for 'thanks'; 'u' for 'you'; 4 for 'for'. Instead of aiding communication it can be a barrier.
But as it has developed its users have sought out increasingly obscure ways of expressing themselves which, when you think about it, entirely defeats the purpose. With my vast knowledge of text language I had assumed LOL meant 'lots of love', but now I discover it means 'laugh out loud'. I can work out BTW (by the way) but I was baffled by IMHO U R GR8.
The danger - for young people especially - is that they will come to dominate.
Our written language may end up as a series of ridiculous emoticons and everchanging abbreviations. E-mailing has seen to that and I must confess that I would find it difficult to live without it. I resent the fact that I spend so much of my working day (and, even more regrettably, weekends) checking for e-mails - most of which are junk.
It has removed the hyphen from no fewer than 16,000 words. The spell-check (sorry: spellcheck) on my computer is happy with both. There are fewer letters in that hideous word and think how much time I could have saved typing it.) The texters also have economy on their side.
So in future we are required to spell pigeon-hole, for instance, as pigeonhole and leap-frog as leapfrog. But that's not why I feel betrayed by my precious OED. It has happened because we are changing the way we communicate with each other, which means, says the OED editor Angus Stevenson, that we no longer have time to reach for the hyphen key. No time to make one tiny key-stroke (sorry: key stroke). Are our lives really so pressured, every minute occupied in so many vital tasks, every second accounted for, that we cannot afford the millisecond (no hyphen) it takes to tap that key? No, there's another reason - and it's far more sinister and deeply troubling. It costs almost nothing to send a text message compared with a voice message. I must also concede that some voice messages can be profoundly irritating.
If we see an Americanism we like, we snaffle it - and so we should.
Let me anticipate the reaction to this modest little rant against the text revolution and the OED for being influenced by it. It is constantly evolving and anyone who tries to get in the way is a fuddy-duddy who deserves to be run down. One of the joys of the English language and one of the reasons it has been so successful in spreading across the globe is that it is infinitely adaptable.
It is 25 years since the emoticon (that's the posh word) was born.
It started with the smiley face and the gloomy face and now there are 16 pages of them in the texters' A-Z. It is interesting, in a masochistic sort of way, to look at how text language has changed over the years.
I am also cross with myself for the way I have adapted my own style.
In the early days I treated e-mails as though they were letters.
A good dictionary is a fine thing - I yield to no man in my love for one.