HOAS — Texting has rules?!

The poem is a form of texting… it’s the original text. It’s a perfecting of a feeling in language – it’s a way of saying more with less, just as texting is.

Carol Ann Duffy

Yikes! I have been texting wrong!

I text a lot. I regularly text my daughters, my husband, my friends and my Fabulous Boomer Sister, Dani. Texting is an integral part of my life. I would feel disconnected if I couldn’t pick up my phone and shoot a quick text message whenever I felt the need!

Recently, my daughters informed me that I was making some grave texting faux pas!

One of the worst offences? Ending a sentence with a period (full stop). This suggests anger, sarcasm, or is dismissive in textspeak. Did you know that?

This came as news to me — a little bit of a shock, in fact.

I admit it. I am a grammar snob.

A typo, a comma splice, or a misplaced modifier makes my head hurt. I am not saying I am perfect — I have been known to write wordy sentences, lapse into passive voice, and commit other grammatical blunders! But I strive to ensure that my writing is as close to perfect as possible. At least where grammar is concerned!

When I text, I use snobby proper English grammar — I rarely use icons other than hearts, smiley/sad faces, and thumbs up. You would never catch me using acronyms or abbreviated sentences like BFN, DKDC or, ORLY. I use correct punctuation and generally freak out when I make a spelling error.

After talking with my girls, I realized that I was letting my snobbery get in the way of clear conversations. I decided to embrace this evolving language and learn all the ins and outs of text messaging.

Texting has come a long way since the first message was sent on December 3rd, 1992. Today, it is one of the most widely used forms of communicating. While Millennials lead the generations in technology use, Baby Boomers are no strangers to the digital world. According to a recent Pew research report, 68% of Boomers owned a smartphone in 2019 compared to 25% in 2011. Also, their use of social media platforms has increased by 10 per cent since 2012.

photo of person holding a smart phone
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

We, Baby Boomers, are using our smartphones and texting messaging apps more these days. But are we missing key information about this technology? Text messaging is like other forms of interpersonal interaction. It can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings if we ignore the rules and guidelines of digital communication.

The first thing to do is change our mindset and adopt appropriate text messaging principles. Texting is fast, easy, and convenient. Because the screen is tiny, it makes a lot of sense that conversations would consist of short sentences, texting abbreviations, and the use of cute emojis and icons. Plus, writing this way can be fun! It is a little like learning a new language — a bit of a challenge. How can we mitigate the learning curve?

Below is a list of 50 popular texting terms. How many do you know and use?

  1. ABD: Already been done
  2. ATM: At the moment
  3. AYS:  Are you serious?
  4. B4N: Bye for now
  5. BC: Because
  6. BRB: Be right back
  7. CSL: Can’t stop laughing
  8. CU: See you
  9. CYA: See ya
  10. DKDC: Don’t know, don’t care
  11. DM: Direct message
  12. DTS: Don’t think so
  13. E1: Everyone
  14. EOD: End of discussion
  15. G2G: Got to go
  16. GR8:  Great
  17. HAND: Have a nice day
  18. HOAS: Hold on a second
  19. HRU: How are you?
  20. IDK: I don’t know
  21. IMO: in my opinion
  22. IRL: In real life
  23. IYKWIM: If you know what I mean
  24. JK: Just kidding
  25. L8R: Later
  26. LMAO: Laughing My Ass Off
  27. LMK: Let me know
  28. LOL: Laughing out loud
  29. NBD: No big deal
  30. NP: No problem
  31. NRN: No reply needed
  32. NTS: Note to self
  33. NVM: Never mind
  34. OBV: Obviously
  35. ORLY: Oh, really?
  36. OTOH: On the other hand
  37. POV: Point of view
  38. ROFL: Rolling on floor laughing
  39. SMH: Shaking my head
  40. SO: Significant other
  41. SRSLY: Seriously
  42. SRY: Sorry
  43. TBH: To be honest
  44. TMI: Too much information
  45. TTYL: Talk to you later
  46. UR: Your and/or You’re
  47. WTF: What the f***
  48. XLNT: Excellent
  49. YOLO: You only live once
  50. ZZZZZ: Sleepy or bored

There are many comprehensive lists of texting abbreviations and acronyms. Try this one, the terms are grouped in categories, or this reference site which has a texting abbreviation search bar.

Along with omitting periods at the end of final sentences and refraining from using most punctuation, what other fundamental rules do we need to know?

One useful grammatical mark you can use in text messages is four dots — written by typing an ellipsis followed by a period. Four dots signify the end of discussion (EOD) or no reply is needed (NRN).

Consider the following example text. Why would anyone write a text like this?
GIRL I AM SO STOKED! I got innnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!! classes start next month lets celebrate

The use of all caps is generally not done as it symbolizes shouting. But in this instance, you would be yelling — with excitement. The repeated letters and the five exclamation points reinforce that feeling. Notice the lack of punctuation otherwise.

Omitting punctuation such as commas, periods, apostrophes, and question marks in text messages, is expected. Only include them if needed for clarity.

What about emojis?

These days, those cute little emoticons are widely used in text messaging, emails, and other social media platforms. Some of them, hearts, smiley faces, crying faces, etc., are simple to interpret.  But there are many more of these little icons whose meanings are less clear.  This list, All the Emoji Meanings You Should Know, can help you figure which ones are appropriate for your text message.

Photo by Annalise Batista on Pixabay

Are you worried that text messaging will weaken people’s writing skills? Don’t be. Research has shown that using textspeak has little effect on peoples’ formal writing abilities. Ever since the written word was first developed, people spoke differently from how they wrote.

Texting is casual, informal communication that is more in common with oral speech than written language. Textspeak is continually evolving, developing its own syntax, and grammar. Take the acronym Lol for instance. Its literally meant laugh out loud. But now, it conveys an emotion or attitude that can be used even when nothing is funny. For example, when asked “what ru up to”, you might text a reply, “lol still at the office writing my report.”

Language is fluid and changes over time, and text messaging is the same. Let’s learn this new language along with its complexities.  It will exercise our brain. We can show our Millennial kids that we are not too old to learn. Maybe the term, “Ok, Boomer” will soon have a new connotation!

Are you a texting expert? Or do you struggle to understand this digital language? Share your texting experiences with us in the comments. B4N!

5 Comments on “HOAS — Texting has rules?!

  1. Also you may want to smart Dani to check her settings. Her last two blogs didn’t show up in my feed and wouldn’t connect when I hit the email link. I would hate for all her efforts to do unread.

    • Thanks for the heads up! I will let her know! We want our posts to be read, for sure!!

    • Thanks so much, Jennifer! I will check more and see what’s going on there – so far everything looks fine. We appreciate you!

  2. Since everyone I know texts like me and not like a teenager I have no interest in changing. Even my twenty-something son spells things out and punctuates, which is good because I would never remember all the short forms and how to spell them. I can’t even spell acronym. Thank heavens for spell checkers for the real words.

    • Thank you for your comment, Jennifer! I, too, love spell checkers and grammar checkers (I use Grammarly religiously)! But I’m okay with trying to learn textspeak! I feel that it is more like talking than writing but I’ll stick to my usual grammatically correct formal writing when posting on this site and elsewhere! 🙂