Can you keep it short?

Posted on December 7, 2012. Filed under: Can you keep it short? | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

whopaid“Please have some glogg! We serve it every morning now to give some Christmas spirit to the staff. “Barbro is pointing towards the X-mas decorated cafeteria filled with candles, gingerbread, almonds and raisins. The scent from the warm glogg feels like Christmas music inside. The manager in front of me is filled with enthusiasm and warmly greets an employee who passes. “This girl came and asked if she could make a calendar with christmas presents for her colleagues. This means we all receive a Christmas gift each. It cost so little, but has given us so much joy.” I envy the employees of this company that has such a dedicated manager and is filled with curiosity when she leans towards me and says.” I have read your blog and feel free to write about this. You can use my name and everything. Now, I want to tell you why we need your services.”

This week Arlanda closed due to snow storm and my participants had to be followed up on phone instead. SAS sent plenty of sms to inform about one delay after another. Of course, I sent an SMS to my mentor to thank her for the fun nostalgia evening last Friday. She texted back and thanked me for sharing funny and dear memories in my speech to her. I replied that it had been great fun, but got really frustrated when the phone constantly suggested other less accurate things I should write. Who invented AutoCorrect?!

I started thinking about SMS and its limitations. How has it influenced our language? Wonderful is short, but maybe not always? Can you really get the message through in only 160 characters?

On Monday, December 3 SMS celebrated its 20th birthday. The first Short Message Service was sent on Vodafone GSM network in England on December 3, 1992. On his PC Neil Papworth of Sema Group wrote to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone to his Orbitel 901 phone – “Merry Christmas”.

SMS had a slow start. My colleague, Jan Winstedt, told me that a friend of his showed him the technique in the mid 90ies. When he sent text messages to the rest of his friends he got zero response. No one realized that the service existed or what they should use it for. From 0.4 messages per person and month in 1995 we send 4 sms per person and day in Sweden these days. But the question is whether SMS will ever celebrate its 30ies birthday since we now have free services as WhatsApp and Skype. Social media has also decreased our urge to texting each other. But the fact remains, even if you use WhatsApp, FB or Twitter you have to keep it short. Sometimes so short that you hardly know what the sender means. I look like a question mark when my daughter is chatting with their friends on Facebook. Patiently she explains;

Yolo – You only live once (did they come up with that now?)
Brb – Be right back
OMG – Oh, my God!
PAW – Parents are watching

Using abbreviations is not a new thing. My father in law with special telegraphic and language skills worked as a spy and spent his career within the navy listening to foreign communications. Each Christmas I refill his snaps glass trying to get him to reveal some of his secrets, but he just smiles and says “I could tell you but then I have to kill you.” Sometimes I wonder if my mother in law may have similar thoughts, or if she is ready to kill me anyway? OMG

Personal ads is another forum where abbreviations are used frequently. “M 66 seeking F, looks not important, must be tall, slim and attractive.”

How did we handle this in the old days? I mean in the jungle drums and smoke signals days? Did we use abbrevations then too? Imagine seeing smoke over the hill and reading.

“Bearskin for sale. Real bargain.”

Or hearing the drums “see ya by the riverside, bring beer” What did he drum? Is there a bear by the riverside?

In the (Swedish) book “Embarrassing text message” I read about how often we not only misinterpret abbreviations, but also create enemies for the rest of our lives by sending SMS with high veracity, but to the wrong person. As the man who thought he sent a text to his humorous but not so tall buddy: “Hey dwarf. What’s happening this weekend? “But who ended up sending it to his equally very short boss.autocorrect

Of course things will go wrong when everything is dealt with in warp speed, microblogs and quick texting. We stretch the time limits wanting to get as much as possible on such a short a time as possible. I try to keep my finger right and avoid autocorrect when I use my smartphone to thank Barbro for a nice meeting and the tasty glogg. Sure, I sometimes check my messages again thinking “What on earth did I write?”.

What if the ability to keep it short has created a whole new language for our young generations. What will happen to the literature? I cannot help but wondering if my future readers will consider my blogs as long as Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”?.


Petra Brask

Some abbreviations


^5 High Five!

2BCTND To Be Continued

2G4U Too Good For You

4YEO For Your Eyes Only

AAMOF As A Matter Of Fact

AFAIK As Far As I Know

AFK Away From Keyboard

AKA Also Known As

AWHFY Are We Having Fun Yet?

BBIAB Be Back in a Bit

BBL Be back later

BCNU Be seeing you

BFN Bye for now

BTW By The Way

CFV Call For Votes

CM Call me / Contact me

CUL8R See You Later

CYA See ya!

DUR? Do you remember?

DYN Did You Notice.

EOD End of Discussion.

EOF End Of File. Du kan sluta läsa nu.

F/M? Female or Male?

FOAF Friend of a Friend.

F2F Face To Face

FWIW For What It’s Worth..

FYA For Your Amusement.

FYI For Your Information.

G Grin.

GA Go Ahead.

GAL! Get A Life!

GDR Grinning, Ducking and Running (someone just told a bad joke)

GL! Good Luck.

GMTA Great Minds Think Alike.

GRL Girl

GR8 Great.

GTG or  G2G Got To Go.

HAND Have a nice day.

HANL Have A Nice Life

HTH Hope this helps.

IAE In any event

IC I see.

ICWUM I see what you mean.

IIRC If I Recall Correctly.

ILU I Love You.

IMAO In My Arrogant Opinion.

IME In My Experience.

IMHO In My Humble Opinion.

IMNSHO In My Not So Humble Opinion.

IMO In my opinion.

IOW In Other Words.

IRL In Real Life.

IRT In Reply To.

JAM Just A Minute.

J4F Jut for fun.

JIT Just In Time.

JK Just Kidding..

KIT Keep In Touch.

L8R Later.

LOL Laughing Out Loud.

LTNS Long time no see.

MHOTY My Hat’s Off To You.

Newbie also ”noob” eller ”noobie”. Newcomer

NFG No Freakin’ Good.

NRN No reply necessary. .

NW! No Way!

OBTW Oh, by the way

OIC Oh I See

OMG Oh My God.

OMW On My Way.

OOTB Out Of The Box (or Blue).

OTF On the Floor (laughing)

OTOH On The Other Hand.

PANS Pretty Amazing New Stuff.

PAW Parents Are Wathcing.

PEBCAK Problem Existing Between Chair

And Keyboard. (I messed up)”.

PMFJI Pardon Me For Jumping In.

POV Point of view.

R Are.

RL Real Life.

ROFL Rolling On The Floor Laughing.

ROTFL Rolling On The Floor Laughing.

RSN Real Soon Now


RTM Read the manual.

SITD Still in the dark. (still don’t understand)

SMTOE Sets My Teeth On Edge. .

SO Significant Other

T+ Think positive.

TAFN Thats all for now.

TANSTAAFL There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

TBH To Be Honest.

TEOTWAWKI The End of the World as We Know It.

TIA Thanks In Advance. .

TNX Thanks. Tack.

2L8 Too late.

TMTT Too much to type.

TTFN TaTa For Now.

TTTT To Tell The Truth.

TTYL Talk To You Later.

TX Thanx.

TYVM Thank you very much..

unPC unPolitically Correct..

VBG Very Big Grin.

VEG Very Evil Grin.

VG Very Good.

W8 Wait…

WB Welcome Back.

WRT With Regard To / With respect to.

WTG Way to go.

WYRN What’s Your Real Name?

WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get.

X Kiss!

X! Typical man.

Y! Typical woman.

YA Yet Another.

YGTBK You Got To Be Kidding.


WUAGW Wish You A Great Weekend (I just made that one up)




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