A plethora of little 'pocket' books have been published in Europe recently to capitalise on the sms/text message craze. Typically with names such as 'cmplt buk of txt' or 'th lttl gide 2 txtng' (and I'm not exaggerating), they claim to supply the reader with a definitive listing of the abbreviations and acronyms used by all the cool young teenagers in their text messages today.

Flicking through the pages of one of these guides is soul-destroying stuff. Acronyms such as 'SOHF' (sense of humour failure) and 'SITD' (still in the dark) are ones I remember from a recent encounter (not E2 nodes). Sure, they exist, but what normal person uses them regularly in a text message? Unless the recipient of the message has the exact same guide you do, you're just going to be laughed at. The only entry for 'LOL' in the same book was 'Lots of Luck'.

Even if your friends did have the same guide, they'd have to memorise the entire thing, because these abbreviations are rarely in alphabetical or catagorical order, and usually appear to be printed in the order they were dreamt up/copy-pasted off a web page. This becomes apparent when you look at the second (usually much larger) section of the book, dealing with smileys. I won't even try and go into any of the more complex emotions these smileys are supposed to represent, but really... you thought Perl was Line Noise? (=):/~~}}!

Finally, any phrases or full sentences they give are hopelessly unrealistic and/or cumbersome. No one wants to spend 5 minutes paging through a character map on their phone to write a smiley when they could just write "I'm feeling happy". The whole point of abbreviations is to reduce keypresses and fit more information into the 160 characters offered by a single text message (although the recent appearance of predictive text input eschews these in favour of speed, which is also good -- who'd have thought you could get 20 wpm on a numeric keypad?)

But the abbreviations in these books are always obviously written by someone who has never sent a text message in their life. No one (who's trying to save space and keypresses in a text message) is going to write "C U at th mvies at 10 2nght! Thnq u!", when they could write "cu@t movies@10tonite!thx!".

Of course, this brings me to the last point: everyone's style of abbreviating text messages is going to be different. You can see how fucked up mine is, for example. Little books of txt, in their current form, are useless and the only reason they sell at all is as gifts from misinformed people to their text-obsessed friends/nephews/etc.

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