a.k.a. texting, text message, person-to-person messaging, p2p messaging, SMS, shorthand, logograms, logographs, pictograms, pictographs

The act of typing and sending a brief, electronic message (less than 160 characters) via a wireless network to another person so that they can view the short message on any number of mobile or handheld devices, such as a Blackberry, a cell phone, a PDA, a handy, or a pager.

As more and more people send text messages to each other (especially in Europe and parts of Asia where it is appropriately referred to as SMS), they are increasingly using acronyms, chat acronyms, shorthand, and smileys since the screens on mobile devices keep getting smaller and smaller -- see: microbrowser and microblogging.

Let's get even more specific! The most noticeable feature of text orthography (a method of specifying the correct way of using a writing system to write a language) is the use of single letters, numerals, and typographic symbols to represent words, parts of words or even noises. For example:

b = be
2 = to
@ = at
x = kiss

When graphic units are used in this way, they are technically known as logograms or logographs (or in the case of some languages, characters). Logograms in texting may be used alone, or in combination:

b4 = before
@oms = atoms
2day = today
xxx = kisses
zzz = sleeping

Pictograms or pictographs, on the other hand, refer to visual shapes or pictures that represent objects or concepts. For example, emoticons and straight-on smileys are pictograms, and are also known as ASCII art. For example:

:-) = smile
;-) = wink
:-@ = screaming
(*o*) = surprised
(^_^) = cute

Some texters use a combination of English and their language, for example, here are some German phrases:
b4 = before (bevor)
4u = for you (fur dich)
4e = for ever (fur immer)
brb = be right back (bin gleich wieder da)
j4f = just for fun (nur zum spass)
mx = Merry Christmas (Frohe Weihnachten)

Texting 101:

  • Don't worry about upper and lowercase letters
  • Eliminate punctuation if you want to
  • Eliminate vowels, such as pls for please
  • Replace words with number, as in cul8r
  • Use sounds and letters to represent words, like u for you
  • Use common abbreviations for common words, like thx for thanks
  • Add some text message lingo and smileys!

Historical perspective: In July 2005, in the U.S. there were 81.7 million text message users over 13 years old, while April 2008 saw that figure increase 37.5% to 112 million. These users sent 48 billion messages monthly and 363 billion annually, an increase of 448% since 2005. In 2009, according to TNS Global, 74% of the world’s digital messages were sent through a mobile device in January 2009, a 15% increase over the previous year.

As of September 2018, American teenagers now say they prefer texting to talking to friends in person, according to research from Common Sense Media. In a survey, 35 percent chose texting as their favorite form of interaction—versus just 32 percent for in-person conversations. The majority of those surveyed also acknowledge that apps regularly wake them up at night and distract them from homework.

For the largest list of chat acronyms and text messaging shorthand, click on "more info" below!  SEE ALSO: the NetLingo definitions of shorthand and leetspeak have additional lowercase examples.

See also : sexting  shorthand  leetspeak  
NetLingo Classification: Net Technology

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