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Text Speak

Trey Reely | April 2011

   The gap is widening. A while back, while chatting with a student, I used a contemporary expression often used by teenagers. She stared at me blankly, so I asked her, “I’m cool if I use that expression, right?”
   “Now that you’ve used it, it’s not cool anymore,” she replied. It seems that added to the list of my many other crimes of adulthood is the stunting of the English language.
   Students even think it’s humorous when I embrace newer technology. One day I mentioned in passing that I was on Facebook, and they laughed more at that than at any joke I’ve ever told. I can’t wait till they find out that I can even send and receive text messages.
   There seems to be a fine balance between acting (and talking) one’s age and remaining current enough to communicate with teenagers today. When I first began texting, the stodgy grammarian in me resisted the idea of adopting acronyms and abbreviations, but it wasn’t long before I tired of punching in wrong letters with my clumsy, too-fat fingers and decided to opt for the path of least resistance. The evolution looked something like this:

Where are you? Are you coming home before 6:00?
Where are u? Are u coming home by 6:00?
Where r u? R u coming home by 6?
Wru? Home by 6?

   As I discovered, there is a distinct advantage in adopting some of the more current linguistic trends derived from texting, namely succinctness. In the old days one might say, “She’s my best friend” while today a girl would say, “She’s my BFF,” (best friend forever), compactly expressing both status and the supposed longevity of the relationship.
   This conciseness could come in handy in band rehearsals. I’m considering giving my students a key to all appropriate acronyms and require that they be memorized. Combined with non-verbal conducting gestures my rehearsal efficiency might just go through the roof. I can foresee rehearsals like the following (translation in parenthesis):

Director: “WB (Welcome back.) Let’s play our warm-up chorale.”
Director: “OMG! (Oh my gosh!)
Clarinet Player: “WW” (What’s wrong?)
Director: “IMHO UR playing FAAP” (In my humble opinion you are playing as flat as a pancake!)
Student: “LOL” (Laugh out loud.)
Director: “No. Don’t ROFL. CYR, SOG, and SUS!” (No. Don’t roll on the floor laughing. Change your reed, spit out your gum, and sit up straight.)
Student: “BRB ASAP.” (Be right back as soon as possible.)