It’s official: “LOL” has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. So has “OMG,” for that matter. In my last blog post I expressed affection for linguistic mutants. Now I’m starting to feel a little afraid.
Of course, these familiar acronyms aren’t the limit of what happens to language when you cram it into a text message or a tweet. Letters, sentence structure, and general coherency are quickly abandoned to meet restrictive character limits. And it doesn’t help that texting often requires you to mash the same key several times in order to get the desired letter; if you’re on a crowded streetcar with your phone in one hand and a coffee in the other, then who can be bothered if your message ends up with a few more Qs than you originally intended?
Unfortunately (or not?), as an editor my way of life depends on the fact that I care about the accuracy of words. Who would I be if I let myself off the hook whenever caring happens to be impractical? And so I often spend so much time editing down my text messages that calling the person seven times would probably be more efficient.
The fundamental incongruence between editor and text message runs deep. For example, please consider this illustration of what happens between me and my cell phone on a regular basis:
I wish I could say this was an exaggeration. I really, really wish I could say that.