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Lingo that cares two hoots for grammar


`Cd vwls n ful wrds dspr cmpltly frm lng?'

Does this message make any sense to you? Well, if they do, then you, too, must be a part of the booming text messaging community of SMS - Short Message Service - users.

By the way, that SMS means, "could vowels and full words disappear completely from language?'' Vizagites have fallen in line with the global trend of aggressive application of SMS service and become an adept in using this mode of messaging. A few may feel that only a youngster would fancy using this tricky method, but the truth is people of all age groups are taking to it. Youngsters do form a major chunk of the group and they can be seen hooked on to their trendy handsets on Beach Road, parks, food joints, bus stops, on the campus and sometimes even during class hours, busy making appointments, fixing dates, chatting and sending jokes using this new lingo.

SMS allows users to send messages of a maximum length of 160 characters. The need to convey more while staying within the limits of wordage has had users experimenting with the words for some time now. This has led to the emergence of a new communication system, which uses simple abbreviations to save on time, space and effort: Try2rite (eight characters) instead of "try to write" (12 characters), ASAP (four characters) for "as soon as possible" (16 characters) and CUL8R (five characters) instead of and "see you later" (11 characters). Lengthy phrases like `to whom it may concern' and `long time no see' are conveyed using only a few characters - 2WIMC and LTNC. One need not go through the trouble of trying to get the right spellings. The only rule to framing the sentences is that `there are no rules'!

The proliferation of text messaging has created a whole new culture globally, and it changes the way we communicate in more ways than we are aware of.

Opinion is divided on the contortion of language but it hardly seems to matter to the users. The enormous influence of this culture on people's daily lives is evident from reports of teachers finding students using this stunted language even in examinations. This raises the question of students' ability to spell and frame grammatically correct sentences.

The language has also crept into chat rooms, e-mails, greeting cards and even into classifieds of newspapers.

One can buy books on how to send a cool SMS text message at your nearest Archie's gallery or any other fancy store.

There seems to be no end to innovation in SMS messaging. The French author, Phil Marso, has written a novel `Pa Sage a Taba' ("Not Wise to Smoke"), entirely using Franco-SMS-slang. Another enthusiast has set a standard for the speed at which one could SMS. James Trusler of the United Kingdom tapped this SMS message of 160 characters in a record time of one minute and seven seconds: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera serrasalmus and pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human."

The bending and breaking of the language may irk purists, but one cannot deny the fact that its popularity is growing by the day so much that the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the world's leading dictionary, is including `text speak' in a new edition to be launched this summer. The new entries popular among teens' text messaging include GR8 (great) and BCNU (be seeing you). Ere long, someone could come out with a full-fledged dictionary of SMS language.

SMS was an accidental success. When cellular prepaid cards were first introduced in Europe, billing could not be done for SMS messages due to a technical error. Youngsters identified this loophole and exploited it aggressively. Later, however, the network operators got their acts together and managed to levy nominal charges. SMS has retained its popularity even after becoming a paid service. It may have changed the rules of communication, but it is the users who are changing the rules of the language.

Now anyone can pick up a mobile and get creative. "So FYA go ahead & GIAG BBFN & TC :)''. If you are puzzled, it means: "So for your amusement, go ahead and give it a go. Bye-bye for now, and take care *smiles*''.

SHAZEEL M BASHA

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