Writing and reading in English throws up a plethora of challenges when you’re learning the language for the first time. Phonetics are scarce, irregularities are a common occurrence and the order and the grammar of the language is often at odds with your mother tongue. Of course, the same is true for all languages, and it is a minefield to master!
So you might be pleased to know that many of us British folk struggle with consolidating phonetics, spelling and grammar too, and deciphering between the spelling and pronunciation has led to all sorts of shortcuts.
In the late 1990s, when characters on texts were limited and you’d get charged for each new message, shortening words to their phonetic roots became a trend that not only saved us money, but also time and brainpower. Today it has become a kind of modern shorthand that unfortunately has become too wide spread and has actually had an inhibiting affect on the literacy of many a school child.
However, text speak is rife and here at Spen Languages, our aim is to not only teach you to use English correctly, but also to help you conquer the many unexpected barriers that you may encounter when you come here for the first time.
As a general rule of thumb, ‘text speak’ is mostly phonetic, so if you are bamboozled by a random number or seemingly non-existent word, try pronouncing it. Its meaning will usually, as if by magic, suddenly become clear! Having said this, it helps to have a little glossary of definitive meanings for some of the most common shortcuts, so we’ve listed as many as we can think of below:
@ = At
1daful = Wonderful
2 = To/to
2DLoo = Toodle-oo (colloquial term for ‘Goodbye’)
2moro = Tomorrow
4 = For
4va = Forever
8 = Ate
B = Be
B4 - Before
BCoz = Because
Bk = Back
Bk @ U = Back at you
C = See
Coz = ‘Cause
D8 – Date
Dat = That (Used with ‘Tru’: “Tru dat”, or “True that,” meaning “That is very true.”
Gr8 = Great
H8 = Hate
J42day = Just for today
L8 = Late
L8r = Later
M8 = Mate
Msg = Message
No1 = No-one
QT = Cutie (Someone – or something – that is very cute)
R = Are
Thnx = Thanks
Tru – Tru (See note on ‘dat’, above)
U = You
There is also a long list of acronyms that you will probably have seen, if not on text message, then certainly on Facebook or on emails. These are harder to decipher through pronunciation, so we will look at what each acronym means below:
4COL = For crying out loud (idiom expressing exasperation!)
AKA = Also known as
ASBO = Anti-social behaviour order**
ATM = At the moment (or a cash dispenser)
AWOL = Absent without leave*
BBQ = Barbeque
BF = Boyfriend
BFF = Best Friend Forever
Bk@U = Back at you
BRB – Be right back
BTW = By the way
DINK = Double income, no kids (this is marketing terminology, to describe people who are likely to have high levels of disposable income.)
DOA = Dead on arrival (this is medical terminology that has found its way into the mainstream)
ETA = Estimated time of arrival
FAQ = Frequently asked question
FFS = For F***’s Sake (another, rather ruder, expression of exasperation!)
FOMO = Fear of missing out
FYI = For your information
G2G = Got to go
GF = Girlfriend
GLBT = Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender
LMAO = Laughing my a** off
LMFAO – A rather ruder version of the above!
LOL = Laughing out loud
OMG = Oh my goodness/ Oh my God
PM = Personal message (you may see this one floating around Facebook!)
ROFL =Rolling on floor laughing
SSDD = Same Stuff Different Day
TTFN = Ta ta for now (“Ta ta” is an affectionate colloquialism for ‘goodbye’)
*This is a well known idiom that originates from army terminology: Now it is used in wider English culture to explain that someone is not around, and that nobody knows where they are.
**This is used in the justice system and is a punishment for delinquents and vandals who have regularly behaved badly without doing anything exceptionally damaging. It has seeped into mainstream culture to describe someone who behaves like this, even if they haven’t got a court order!
As a language school, we LOVE our words – and we like to see them spelt properly! As such, take note: This blog NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card if you can’t remember how something is written!
Don’t forget: The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask!
And on that note, TTFN dear readers!