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TXT MSG December 29, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Students, Writing.

txtmsg  Every few weeks an article is published examining a new wrinkle in the way we use technology to communicate with each other. The Washington Post’s piece on the brevity of text messaging provides an overview of some of the issues for those of us interested in computer-mediated communication (CMC) and the development of adolescent social networks. 

What I found interesting was the view from the adolescent perspective as seen from interviews by a researcher with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. She wrote, “You don’t see the person’s upper lip tremble. You don’t hear their voice quiver. You don’t get those external, non-textual cues.” 

This suggests that text messaging, if it is to ever become a mainstream means of communicating is at a fork in the road of its development. Although the brevity required of the text can easily remove traces of nervousness and hints of uncertainty, what do we do with brief text when we want to infuse a message with emotion? Either we must rely on gimmicky emoticons, with us since the earliest days of e-mail, or we will develop the language of texting to a new literary art form. 

It would have to be considerably more insightful than the limerick and less impenetrable than the haiku. I can see the first collection available in bookstores soon (would former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky be available to edit, I wonder). Even better, I can envision a briefly popular series of translated classics, a txt to text translation book for parents, a txt grammar, txt classes being offered at the local community center, and txt being prominently placed in major motion pictures. 

Alas, I also see counseling for couples who argue over correct spacing and spelling, accidental deletions of sentimental messages, and failure to respond adequately to texting spouses. Before that happens, I will have to check in on the Oxford English Dictionary to see if “texting? is the proper form of the newest verb “to text.? 

UPDATE: According to the OED, “texting” has been noted in vernacular communications since 1998 and a citation about it will be included in an update to the print version.




1. TC the Terrible - December 29, 2005

“txt to text translation book for parents”

Great idea. It could even come with a subscription feature that would send regular updates to the parents’ cell phone. That way when my wife sends ‘f/u’ to my daughter she will understand that it does not mean ‘follow up’, but in the txt msg world it really means ‘F/u!’.


2. Tracy Arnold - February 1, 2006

I think text messaging is the new way for students to 1. Cheat in school, 2. Entertain themselves during class, and 3. Have constant contact with others at all times. I think texting is annoying and I have desperately been trying to get it turned off my own cell phone. The company gets you by charging you even if you receive an unwanted message. Then when you text the person back “Stop texting me” they send you one back that says “ok”….. it is one of my biggest pet peeves. There goes another $5 on my next bill… Thanks Sprint!

3. Meliz - February 5, 2006

I seen two students texting each other in a psychology class I took last summer during an exam. Thankfully, they were caught and expelled from the university. It’s nice to know that some teachers are aware of the new ways that students are cheating so that they are punished accordingly.
Now on a softer note. This is a true story. My sister texts her boyfriend all of the time, it’s nuts! They text when they are at work, school, and, I’m not kidding you, in the bathroom. It’s so aggravating when you start having a conversation with her and you then hear beep,beep,beep. They think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m annoyed just thinking about it.

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