Text messages (or txt msgs) for mobile phones were introduced in January 1999. The service was called SMS (Short Message Service) and it soon became very popular. Now approximately one billion text messages are sent every month in Britain alone. The purpose of its use vary a lot although it is interesting to point out that a survey by Nokia showed that 64% of people flirted using SMS.
Young people send the most messages. In Britain, nearly 70% of fourteen to sixteen year olds have got a mobile phone or use their parents’ mobiles. Teenager Fiona Sutton says, ‘I sometimes send 30 messages a day-but not in class, honestly’; and Marco Miranda from London says, ‘I first asked my girlfriend out with a text message. In fact the first month of our relationship survived only through text messages’. Marco’s first invitation to his girlfriend was ‘WD U LK 2 GO 4 A DRNK?’ (= Would you like to go for a drink?)
As text messages tend to be short, text language has evolved from the informal style of e-mails to become a language on its own. This language is still growing and you can now buy books with lists of abbrevations and symbols as you can see in the picture below. Some experts think that this language is bad because it is not ‘correct’. Jean Aitchison, from Oxford University, disagrees. She says that over the last twenty years language has changed very fast because of the way people use language with new technology. According to her, these changes do not destroy the existing language, but they add to it. We will have to hear now the opinion of teachers at schools!!
Here you are an example of typical English abbreviations:
CUL8R (=see you later)
RUOK (= are you ok?)
RUF2TLK (= Are you free to talk?)
WAN2 (=want to)
PCM (=please call me)
(source: Oxford Exchange 4)