Texting: What’s so uncool about being a good speller?

My toughest challenge as a writer these days is texting. Not because I don’t grasp the technology or understand the convenience — I do.

I just can’t force myself to misspell words.

My cell phone doesn’t make typing easy, so entire sentences take effort. Where my 14-year-old would type “wht RU waring 2 movie?” I’d text, “What are you wearing to the movie?”, conjunctions and all.

“Mom, by the time you do all that, I’d be on my third or fourth text.” (Big eye roll.)

“At least no one would think I don’t know how to spell ‘wearing.'”

“You are so weird.”

As a copywriter and PR practitioner, I’ve spent decades trying to get people to use clear language in their communications, to never assume their audience knows what they’re talking about, and to avoid jargon like the plague.

Textspeak goes against all of that.

We didn’t have this problem with e-mail. Users were taught that messages wouldn’t always be received the way they were intended. A concise message can seem clipped. All caps reads like shouting. Be polite.

Textspeak is this generation’s secret code. They don’t want to be widely understood. They gloat over their shared abbreviations. It makes them cool.

I’m taking a stand against textspeak. Enough adults can’t spell already; let’s not breed a generation who spells without apostrophes and writes “nite” instead of “night.”

That’s the kind of laxity that brought us words like “ginormous.”

P.S. My favorite online dictionary is m-w.com. You can hear pronunciations and play word games — tell your boss it’s your daily vocabulary lesson.

For the more philanthropic, FreeRice.com lets you help feed the world while you learn new words — even more justification for that boss of yours.


13 thoughts on “Texting: What’s so uncool about being a good speller?

  1. Cindy, I agree with you on so many things. I cannot stand textspeak or purposely misspelling words for “cuteness” (e.g. Kute Kuts sends shivers down my spine). I just don’t understand how leaving out “e” saves that much time when texting “wearing.”

    However, I disagree with you on ginormous. It’s the perfect word to describe something that is beyond enormous and gigantic. Plus, I hear Will Ferrell’s voice in my head every time I say. 🙂

  2. Will Ferrell doesn’t lend much credibility to the argument for ginormous (even though “Elf” is so good we bought it for ourselves, not the kids). My daughter made so much fun of me when she read this post. Apparently, we older folks just don’t get it. I’m glad I’m not alone.

    I can’t think of Will Ferrell without envisioning the secret tape scene in “Blades of Glory.” It has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed.

  3. Finally figuring out how predictive texting works saved me—now I can type properly spelled words in less time than it takes to text “c u l8r.” But I do always have to take the time to insert apostrophes, because I can’t stand the thought of somebody thinking I don’t know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

  4. A woman after my own heart. “Its” and “it’s” is just something you have to make up your mind to learn, and too few people do so.

    I don’t have an unlimited-enough texting plan to figure out the predictive nature of texting. 🙂

  5. I had a colleague in my graduate program study texting. I thought he smoked too much pot. Then I read a book written in texting lingo, which gave me a headache. But I discovered something with my Blackberry. It knows contractions 🙂

  6. Okay – I normally nod my head in agreement on all of your posts … but not this one. I do get it. However, I think it’s a pretty good exercise and skill to have to be able to transition between solid writing skills outside of IM and txt lingo when it’s easier and quicker. Now I don’t advocate thinking too hard to come up with short versions, but if it’s clear or common enough – I say go for it. I think you know me well enough to say that I am a decent writer. No where near your level, but solid enough. I am a stickler for good grammar and punctuation when it’s called for, but I am not convinced that mobile texting needs (or wants) those guidelines imposed. Luckily you don’t get electric shock jolts by texting your way versus mine. so go ahead and be lovingly nit-picky. Just don’t hate me because I’m quikr 2 rspnd.

  7. Angela, I’m LMAO (I just today found out what that means) thinking about electric jolts from my phone. Perhaps my big problem is that figuring out what LMAO means isn’t intuitive to me. But really, my worst fear about texting is that our future holds more and more misuse of “your” when someone means “you’re” and “their” instead of “there.”

    BTW, you’re always quikr 2 respnd than I am! LOL

  8. This is coming from a 13 year old, but we use ” Text Lingo” becuase it is faster. It seem you just have an odd pet peeve, and im afraid theres nothing you can do to stop people from texting they way they do.

    • Thanks, Quincy. Pet peeves are always odd, aren’t they? This particular one of mine is mostly to drive my 14-year-old crazy. 🙂 I watch my daughter doing it and it is faster for her; it’s amazing to watch. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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