ProtoTXTSPK

Paul Raven @ 01-08-2011

Via Chairman Bruce, another piece of ammunition against the Rejectionistas who rely on the old “digital messaging is destroying language through compression and abbreviation and slang!” canard; turns out telegraph operators of the 1890s were rockin’ the txtspk to save on time and limited characterspace:

In their conversations telegraphers use a system of abbreviations which enables them to say considerably more in a certain period of time then they otherwise could. Their morning greeting to a friend in a distant city is usually “g. m.,” and the farewell for the evening, “g. n.,” the letters of course standing for good morning and good night. The salutation may be accompanied by an inquiry by one as to the health of the other, which would be expressed thus: “Hw r u ts mng?” And the answer would be: “I’m pty wl; hw r u?” or “I’m nt flg vy wl; fraid I’ve gt t mlaria.”

By the time these courtesies have taken place some early messages have come from the receiving department or from some other wire, and the man before whom they are placed says to his friend many miles away: “Wl hrs a fu; Gol hang ts everlastin grind. I wish I ws rich.” And the other man says: “No rest fo t wickd, min pen,” the last two words indicating that he wants the sender to wait a minute while he adjusts and tests his pen. Presently he clicks out “g a,” meaning “go ahead,” and the day’s work has begun.

This just in: civilisation still standing after ~120 years of convenience-based linguistic innovation.

[ Well, OK, civilisation’s looking to be on rocky ground right now, but you can’t lay our economic problems at the feet of ppl usn abbrvs. y, u mad? ]