I as3ntially m nt n madn3ss, bt >:-( n crafffft.
I think I hear Shakespeare rolling over in his grave. Sorry to disturb you, Bill. You’re still my BFF.
On the heels of the news that OMG, LOL, and FYI have officially become entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, I think it’s time we take a look at a very controversial topic: text speak. If text speak can make its way into some of the greatest works of the English language, you know blogs aren’t safe.
This Mad Writing Skills topic was suggested to me by my mom (Hi, Mom!) after being frustrated by text speak one too many times. I tend to agree with Mom; if I ruled the world, LOLing would be a punishable offense.
WHAT IS TEXT SPEAK?
Text speak is the term used to describe the shorthand slang used to communicate via technology such as texting, internet chat rooms, instant messaging, and the like. Text speak started as a way to abbreviate words or phrases in order to communicate more quickly or with fewer typed characters, but it has now carried over into formal writing and even actual speech.
If you are not buying into the idea that text speech has crossed over, hang out at the mall for an hour or two. Chances are good that you will hear at least one “oh-em-gee” uttered aloud. That’s text speak spoken.
TEXT SPEAK IN BLOGGING
Bloggers can feel a strong temptation to let text speak sneak into a blog post for a number of reasons:
We’re lazy. Text speak is often easier and quicker than standard writing. There are two fewer keystrokes in “ur” than in “your.”
It’s hip. Bloggers fight to stay relevant and sometimes buy into fads in order to do so.
It’s a habit. Most bloggers also have a facebook account, a cell phone, and a Twitter account. The habits you form on those media tend to carry over to your blogging.
From my admittedly biased point of view, text speak is allowable (but not ideal) in certain places. The most obvious place is in an actual text message. Cell phone keyboards are tiny and difficult to navigate, so if you want to type “C U then” instead of “See you then,” I forgive you. Twitter only allows a measly 140 characters before you are cut off, so using decipherable abbreviations there is also understandable.
HOWEVER, blogging platforms allow unlimited writing, and a computer keyboard is plenty big for even chubby fingers like mine. Text speak is a bad idea in blog writing for a number of reasons:
Diminished credibility. As a blogger, you want to earn some credibility with your readers. It’s hard to develop a reputation as a legitimate writer if you sound like a 12-year-old girl at her first school dance.
It’s kinda rude. If you care about your readership, you need to understand that half of communication is reception of your message. You are abbreviating to give your poor tired fingers a rest without thinking about the extra work you are creating for your reader. If your audience can’t understand what the heck “KWIM” means, your message is lost and both you and your reader have done a lot of work for nothing. (If you don’t KWIM, then you don’t know what I mean.)
It doesn’t translate. The internet is a big place and your blog has likely been visited by someone for whom English isn’t a first language. That’s when that handy “Translate” button comes into play. If you are writing using text speak, big miscommunications can occur.
“The first goal of writing is to have one’s words read successfully.” ~Robert Brault”
ARE YOU GUILTY OF TEXT SPEAK?
Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, you might have even done it well. Just like the occasional stylish ellipsis or ironic “irregardless,” sporadic text speak can serve to define your blogging voice. You just don’t want to rely on it for style, and you should recognize its shortcomings.
Basically, bloggers should be wary of text speak for the same reasons they avoid grammar errors. Each instance of text speak is an opportunity for you to be misunderstood. Like with grammar rules, there are instances when the rules can be broken for style reasons, but those instances should be rare and should be done for a specific purpose.
And, to all those bloggers who write using that LOLCATS “I can has cheezburger?” style of writing: No. Just… no.
TEXT SPEAK RESOURCES
Netlingo – A fairly exhaustive list of text acronyms
Noslang.com – A guide to instant message etiquette
Webopedia – A Twitter dictionary
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION?
Are you pro- or anti- text speak in blogging? When is it acceptable? Let me know in the comments!
Do you have any blog writing questions?