Real Mistakes, Real Laughs:

Air bases were built on captured islands of Tinian, Saipan, and Guam but they were barley within the range of the long-range bombers.

(hope the bombadiers weren't on gluten-free diets)

Didn't catch the typo? Scroll to bottom of page

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


While visiting recently in my mother's kitchen, my brother mentioned that he hadn't received my monthly newsletter in a while.

"Could it be the spam filter?" I asked him "Maybe you need to whitelist the email addy."

I caught a glimpse of my mother's bewildered face. "You have no idea what I just said, do you?" She definitely had the I don't know what you're talking about but I'll be supportive and pretend it's fascinating look.

Trooper that she is, she shook her head and cheerfully said, "No, but that's okay."

Albeit a little late in the game, I understood at that moment what a completely new language technology has spawned, a language that grows with each new fad. It started with "IM-ing" and has evolved into "texting" (now a verb in its own right) abbreviations: BFF, OMG, TTFN, ROTFL, and the ever-important one I thankfully have no reason to remember that warns of parents looking over the kid's shoulder. But abbreviations were just the beginning. Then came Facebook, largely responsible for the metamorphosis of the noun friend into a verb, as in "If you friend my ex-boyfriend after what he did, you are no longer my BFF."

Along came Twitter and its appropriate lingo: tweeting, re-tweeting, tweets, twits, etc. Now there are terms that combine English words with the Twitter diphthong (go look it up in the dictionary, like a big boy or girl). Think of the possibilities, some of which already exist: tweeple, mistweet (mistwake?), tweblog ... we may all start sounding like Elmer Fudd ("When I catch that wascally wabbit, I'll give him such a Tweet...").

Perhaps the not-too-distant future will offer foreign language classes for various tech dialects. Don't laugh; remember COBOL and BASIC? In the early days of computer science, proficiency in these acronymic computer "languages" was important. Today's tech talk isn't nearly that esoteric, but I predict it will flourish like toenail fungus, so prepare yourselves. Your grandchild may graduate college with a double-major in Tweetish and Textese.

p.s. (how many kids know what that abbreviation stands for?) If you need translations of any of the tech terms used, visit Dictionary.com. They're probably already integrated into the vernacular.



Algernon said...

A few notes...

The choice of this entry's title is interesting because Pig Latin makes communication take longer with more syllables, instead of shorter with fewer words and letters. Pig Latin consists of spoken words whose presence is obscured (diluted?) with transpositions and additions of syllables according to a pattern. But at least aurally, as well as in text if the spelling can be maintained, Pig Latin contains the original native language's words and sounds.

Pig Latin also exercises the abilities of the speakers and listeners to add and remove the 'noise' mentally, resulting in communication without any losses in the translation, and without requiring an increased understanding of the context of the original message.

OTOH ;-)

This article is mainly about acronyms, contractions, and hybrid words. These words or phrases can be very context dependent, even when the object being referred to does not change.

For example, COBOL officially stands for COmmon Business Oriented Language. But when referred to as an example of a computer language that is difficult to use, it also stands for Compiles Only Because Of Luck.

I suspect that the "verbing" of "friend" happened on Friendster, and not Facebook.

And P.S. stands for PostScript, which has been the name of the computer language often used to produce pages on laser printers.

(And of course the word laser was originally an acronym as well.)

Okay, I'm done. Put a fork in it.

(And while "putting a fork in" refers to ending something, "forking" a project refers to continuing on a different path.)

I'm done - really, I am.


lionmother said...

Kids today don't even need Pig Latin, because they can text and talk with their friends without their parents knowing anything about it. They can be tweeting in a family group or they can be talking with their friends on IM or they can be texting back and forth. The grown ups haven't a clue what they're saying. Also I think that texts have their own abbreviations like that horrible U and 2.

When we were kids our parents had no clue what Pig Latin was so we could talk about anything in that. Parents on the other hand if they came from another background and remembered their native language could talk together in privacy too. My parents used Yiddush whenever they wanted to talk about a subject we couldn't hear. I knew a little bit or "bissel" but not enough to understand.:)


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