Is txtspk the death of language?
4 / against

Is txtspk the death of language?

25 October 2012 | 1:00 pm

Txtspk! That clever (or not) abbreviation of language that allows us to say more in less time. Annoying affectation and a sign of imminent cultural collapse, or a natural fad in the evolution of language?


Tapping away on our phone keypads takes time, and can result in a slightly sore finger. Txtspk is an ingenious way around this, allowing us to deliver more information with fewer characters. And is the delivery of more information faster not the heart of the digital revolution?

Among other smart tricks, txtspk omits vowels. Written Arabic has been doing this for thousands of years, and nobody complains about that. It’s a legitimate and clever means of communication. New terms come to live, bloom, wither and die in txtlnd; it’s a veritable microcosmic language biosphere, rich with the vigour of neologisms.

Furthermore, txtspk is something on which the young can make their stamp, strengthen their youthful tribal affiliations and do all that other stuff that annoys adults. It’s all part of the rite of passage from kid to adult, and like trends before it has enriched the wider language.


Try writing “veritable microcosmic language biosphere” in txtspk and see where it gets you. It’s an inherently lazy and debased mode of communication, an unwanted digital pidgin for those who can’t figure out how to use predictive text. Note how txtspk is the preserve now of only the very young (for trendy reasons) or the older (because they haven’t got the hang of predictive text in typical techno-fail dad fashion). Most people these days spell it out properly, helped, and one might add educated, by the clever software in their mobile phones.

Txtspk is limited, and anyone who uses it looks puerile and idiotic, especially in light of the vast improvements in the aforementioned predictive software. With predictive text finishing your words for you, it’s actually quicker to type it out in full – and properly punctuated.

Txtspk was a passing phase in the development of new communication technology. It may have added to English, but like Cockney rhyming slang before it (another means of passing on information in constrained circumstances), its time is done.

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