Text Abbreviations: An "IDTS" in the Holistic Health Classroom?

    Written by: Lauren Torchia /
    May 23, 2013 11:35:00 AM

    IMHO Lavender is AAMOI, I OH “DYNWUTB” YD & was TTLY LNT. Know what I mean? I barely do (and only after consulting several online text dictionaries). Let me translate for you: AAMOI, I OH “DYNWUTB” YD & was TTLY LNT = As a matter of interest, I overheard the abbreviation DYNWUTB yesterday, which was totally lost in translation on me.

    It seems "text speak" has seeped into our everyday conversations and I have some catching up to do. I am more or less okay with that, though. Dialogue is a very organic form of communication, largely dependent on context, intonation, and the body language of those in the conversation. If text speak somehow adds to that experience, it’s N2M (nothing too much) to worry about, so far as I am concerned.

    That is, nothing too much to worry about in conversation, but what about in written text? Should I be worried? Does the “chatty”, informal language of text speak and other data-driven abbreviations have a place in formal writing? What about when you're discussing aromatherapy or holistic health via blogs or emails? ("IDKAY but IMHO Lavender is #1!") Personally—I think yes, and no. Yes, writers of expressly creative works, such as novels, are well-known to use experimental forms of language to communicate their ideas and captivate their audiences. And, no. I feel writers need to consider their purpose, and their audience, when choosing the words they use to communicate their ideas.

    So, where does that leave us? Do GMTA (great minds think alike) or am I OMO (on my own)? Is it even appropriate for me to be using text abbreviations in this article at all, KNIM (know what I mean)?

    As a creative writer, I could argue many sides of the issue. As an academic writing instructor, however, the point is a bit more clear. No, it is not appropriate to use text abbreviations, Web abbreviations, or any other form of informal language in formal academic writing. And no—it’s not because writing instructors, or college professors in general, are intentionally being firm on the issue to challenge your creativity or complicate your life.

    I can only speak for myself, but in my experience we college teachers take our roles and responsibilities very seriously. For me, that means providing not just information, but a meaningful, practical learning experience. To pretend that academia and professional writing do not have rules we need to follow is silly. Philosophically, "the rules" are, essentially, what form the backbone of our common understanding and human connection. Professionally speaking, properly using "the rules" of formal writing (including clear paragraph and sentence structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation) shows mastery of our ideas, as well as a respect for the reader (we do not want the reader distracted by "figuring out" our meaning).

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    I know—by now you’re probably thinking … AYDI, I HV HW 2 do. (Translation = Are you done yet? I have homework to do.) @TEOTD (at the end of the day), we’re all here to learn. Sometimes that means following instructions that we really prefer not to.

    It’s important. Just like a first meeting, written communication makes a first impression and the more confident you are in the clarity of your writing and ideas, the better your impression is likely to be. Don’t believe me? Consider the definitive story of Cinderella before making up your mind …

    Cinderella had been dancing at the ball for several hours. Enamored of her prince, she failed to notice how badly her feet ached. Exhausted, Cinderella stepped into the night air to rest and slip off her shoes. But no sooner did she get outside before the mighty clock struck its first chime; Cinderella had to be home by midnight. She quickly reached deep into the hidden pocket her clever mice had sewn into her gown and took out her cell phone. She told the phone to “Call Coachman,” and using her keypad typed “HB! SOTMG B4 12 or DQMOT I CRBT,” which the Coachman read as, “Hanging back! Some of the Misses go before midnight or don’t quit making overt teases. I can rope [the Prince] before them,” which he took as a good sign and went home.

    Imagine what happened next (and what may have happened had she clearly communicated her actual message, “Hurry back! Short of time, must go before midnight or, don’t quote me on this, I will be crying really big tears [when my evil stepmother gets hold of me]).

    Just a little something to think about the next time you submit an assignment, draft a communication in your professional life, or correspond with your instructor and/or industry peers. Word choice affects meaning, which affects presentation, which affects outcome, and none of us are writing to be misunderstood.

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    What are your thoughts about the changing face of language? (Note that comments are moderated and automatically closed after 60 days). 

    Authored by Lauren Torchia

    Lauren Torchia is a writer, editor, and obsessive iPhotographer. She holds an MS in Writing from Portland State University and has more than 10 years’ experience writing and editing for commercial and creative enterprises. She currently serves as ACHS Dean of English and Communications Manager and is 200-hr yoga teacher certified from YoYoYogi in Portland, OR. Recent work has appeared in YOGANONYMOUS and Elephant Journal.

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