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Friday, February 02, 2007

hrmntcs uv txt mssgng

Text messaging provides us with a juicy portion into which we may sink our hermeneutical teeth. It puts on display the development of language and how we adapt our communication to fit the medium we are using. So, in this digital age it is not too early to talk about the hermeneutics of text messaging.

How we text:
We hold in our hands a cell phone with a few buttons each of which represents 3 or 4 letters, at least one number, and sometimes various symbols (like # or * or $ or ! or ?). So, each time we want to put a letter into our message we have to hit the button usually more than one time. This is a lot of work. It's not as easy as typing (unless you have one of them new-fangled QWERTY keyboards). The thumb works like mad trying to punch in all the letters and numbers. So, naturally the language is shortened: Take out the vowels, use abreviations, cram three or four words into one.

Craming several words into one brings us to the classic LOL. For those of you frozen in a block of ice and sent out to orbit the earth by the Soviets during the Cold War and have just now re-entered society the term LOL means "laugh out loud." Of course, it doesn't literally mean that one is laughing out loud. (At least I hope not because there are some people I know who use this term so much that I would fear for their sanity if they were literally laughing out loud each time they told me LOL....or maybe I'm just that funny...) LOL may simply be a nod of the hat to someone to say, "Hey, nice little joke you just made."

So, the point of texting is to use the language efficiently - cut out any non-essentials and condense things so that we can squeeze as much into the text as possible with as little work as possible. Interestingly enough, this reminds me of studying the ancient Hebrew text of the Old Testament. One of the many fascinating things about old Hebrew is how efficient it was. Just like text messaging there are no vowels. (The vowel-like pointings in the text were added later.)

This is my first post on HTXT - The hermeneutics of text messaging.

What are the other challenges of text messaging? How often do you text? (I keep it to a few hundred a month....my younger sister, a very sociable freshmen in college, sends or receives a few hundred every day - not kidding.) What are some shortened forms of words or abbreviations you use? What communication gaps have you encountered ? Any misunderstandings resulting from text messaging, or maybe you sent a text and it never arrived thus creating an awkward situation ("But I sent you a text about changing the starting time of the ceremony!")?

What are the interesting things about our current social phenomenon of texting???

Here is my post on blogoneutics


Anonymous said...

I babysit, and the person I sit for sends out texts. I agree that texting is faster and efficient than calling; but to be completely honest I would much prefer a phone call about that. It's particularly annoying if I don't respond, and she still assumes I'm watching her child.

Dawn said...

I was an English major...I don't shorten words. I just use my T9 function that selects words for me, that makes texting more efficient.

Jonathan Erdman said...

EEeeegads! What happens to the kids if the text message gets lost in cyberspace!

Hhhhmmmm.....do I prefer text message or phone call.....in most cases I prefer the text message. Writing is my more preferred mode of communicating. Plus with text messages you have to get right to the point.

The T9 function? I don't have that on my old, beat up cell phone. It's funny because my phone was kind of sharp when I got it two years ago. But it is now an old man in cell phone years. It's like 80 years old in cell phone years! What does that mean? That 1 people year = 40 cell phone years? I need to get updated and get with the program....

ktismatics said...

So you're saying what, that the ancient Hebrews used cell phones?

Melody said...

I like texting because it lets me communicate to people when a phone call would be too invasive or prolonged. But, obviously if I need to discuss something in detail or there will have to be alot of back and forth a phone call is better.

I don't know how often I text. Until Robin and I started hanging out alot it was only when I needed to let someone know something, but it was a bad time to call - like 4 in the morning. I guess I'll find out on this month's bill.

I usually use proper spelling, grammer, and punctuation when I text. That is, as much as is possible for someone whose grasp on such things is tenuous at best.
And because of that...there aren't ever any misunderstandings.

The way I see it, I pay 10 cents for each text. I might as well make myself clear the first time.

Jonathan Erdman said...

So you're saying what, that the ancient Hebrews used cell phones?

Something like that. I think that God started the whole texting idea when he wrote on the stone tablets. I think writing the ten commandments and giving them to Moses was the precursor to the text messaging rage that would sweep up humanity some four thousand years later.....

LINDSAY said...

I am not a big texter, instead I would rather hear the actual persons voice, or talk to them face to face. I hate having to sit there and type in the tiny letters, plus I like to use proper grammer and spelling. When I do text it is usually no more than five times a month, and if the text isn't important I will not text back.

Jonathan Erdman said...

All of you people and your good grammer....You do realize that you are kind of defeating the point I made in this post, don't you!!

These comments are suppossed to make me look good and compliment the brilliance of my post!

ktismatics said...

I dnt evn no how 2 mak a foncol on a celfon, let alon txtmsg.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Do they not have cell phones where you live in France???

They probably have some tasty pastry, though!

ktismatics said...

Text messaging was invented in England, and it's still far more popular in Europe than in the US. France, though ahead of America, lags the rest of the EU. Why? Here's Wikipedia's speculation: France has the same GSM technology as other European countries so the uptake is not hampered by technical restrictions. The reason may be cultural—text messaging is associated with a fast pace of life and France is more reluctant than others to dispense with its traditions. Maybe that's my excuse too.

Melody said...

What exactly was your point in that post? I think I missed it.

The french do have amazing pastries...but I thought they all carried cells too. When I was in a group helping this college kid design a gift shop for a museum (we did real random things when we went to Paris) and someone suggested a couple pay phones and he shot us down, he said everyone has cells so no one would use the pay phone.

ktismatics said...

Yeah they do. My point, obscured by excess verbiage, was that France does more texting than the US but less than the rest of Europe. I, on the other hand, have no cell phone, so I can't even use my wife's for making a phone call without screwing it up. Text? Way beyond me.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Three words:


Alright...maybe that's four....

ktismatics said...

Pastries, though, are a whole nother thing. For pastries I've got all the skills I need. Even if I don't know what something is called, I can point at it. One problem once, though: I wanted two almond croissants and a plain one. What's the word for "plain"? I couldn't think of it. I kept saying "plain" until the patissiere finally gave up on me. The French word "pleine" means "full," so she didn't get it at all. What I should have said was that I wanted un croissant natur.

Sounds like an interesting project, Melody. Did you like Paris?

Melody said...

I loved Paris...actual Parisians laughed at us for our obsession with every little thing, but it was pretty much amazing.
We didn't have much time though (10 days), so we rushed through most stuff real quick. Some time I want to go back for a more relaxed trip...enjoy it bit more..shop alot more.