Date: 2003-12-16 08:42:00
Tags: rant, language
l33tspeak goes mainstream
I just looked over at the little pile of (postal) mail I picked up last night. Sitting on top was some promotional junk from AT&T Wireless. Printed on the outside: "Inside: texting tips 4 U."

Sure enough, inside there were examples like "CAN U', "C U L8R", "2NITE", and so on. Explanatory text says:
Tip: Keep messages short by using text abbreviations. A common example is "C U" for "See you!"
It's true, the annoying phonetic single-letter spelling that has been cultivated in the young computer-using population over the last decade or so, also eagerly adopted by so many non-native english speakers around the world, has now gone mainstream. L33tspeak is now being actively promoted by one of the largest telecommunications marketers out there.

I feel like I'm reading an ad for

Maybe AT&T is doing this because they've noticed people are sending text messages that are longer than they need to be. Shorter messages mean less network usage means more profit (text messages are either $0.10 each or "included with your plan"). I'm almost certain it doesn't cost ten cents to move less than a thousand bits of information around. Especially when you compare that to a phone call, which is not only higher bandwith but the bits need to move in some semblance of real time. Like the small print says, "There is no guarantee of actual delivery or delivery within a specific period of time."

Perhaps - and this is a harrowing thought - there are now young marketing exectives inside AT&T who were brought up with this sort of monophonetic communication style, and they thought it might be a good idea to try to promote it among the rest of the unsuspecting population.

In any case, such an abbreviated conversation style is annoying. I know I'm not alone.
[info]pasketti : You're not alone.
I hate it when people abbreviate like that.

There is a small amount of justification for it with text messaging cellphones that don't have a full keyboard, but there is none at all for email or chat. It's not going to kill people to type a few extra letters.

And smilies. I hate smilies. They're like the phony laugh tracks on bad sitcoms, and just as annoying.

There was an article in the New York Times about a year ago about this. It seems that l33tspeak is starting to creep into students' normal vocabulary and showing up in their written schoolwork. Here's a link from Slashdot. The actual nytimes article has rolled off into their archives.

Hmm. If I were reading this post, I'd follow it up with something like "u need 2 chill out d00d! :) :) :)"
[info]equiraptor : Re: You're not alone.
I like having smilies. I feel they help to clarify my meaning. If I'm just teasing, I can use a ;) or a :-P, and the person I'm teasing knows I'm not serious. But, smilies have their place, as does everything else, and they don't belong in formal communication. They also get really annoying when overused.
Another cynical theory is simply: that's marketing. AT&T may simply be trying to be hip and cool and trendy, appealing to the younger demographic, and encouraging older people to feel like they're hip and cool and trendy and young, just like so many other companies' marketing efforts, with so many other corporate appropriations of fads and subcultures.

Perhaps in the near future there will be beer ads, analogous to WHAZZZZUUUUP!, but with l33tspeak. And if so, they will probably work as intended, as geeks everywhere will be amazed and amused and quote them and forward the links all over slashdot and elsewhere!
[info]decibel45 : Not l33tsp34k
I've never considered those stupid abbreviations to be l33tspeak, just stupid abbreviations.

Thomas Kyte, a VP at Oracle, runs, a well know resource for asking questions and getting excellent answers. He also hates the 'SMS culture', a good example is
And like
[info] said, emoticons definately have their place and can be valuable for communication. What I find stupid is the AOL/IM stuff of '*s*' for smile, etc.
Greg Hewgill <>