Language Matters September 2008: Internet and SMS Language

Dear Language Friend,

Have you ever been greeted with a nice “sup!?”, or has a friend wished you “hf” when you were about to leave for an event? Did his choice of words leave you with a puzzled face? Welcome to the world of Internet language. Those are actually acronyms and abbreviations of real words or even whole sentences!

Lenka de Graafova, Managing Director. Thanks for reading. “thx 4 reading”

What is Internet and SMS (Text) language?

Though chatting on the Internet and phone is very interactive and live, it is by no means as fast as oral communication. Because of this reason, some other ways were developed to increase the electronic communication speed.

Internet slang became one of the ways to increase electronic communication speed, and it is also used for texting. This is quite handy, not only in terms of speed, but also in terms of efficiency. Internet slang tends to be shorter than actual orthography, leaving space in the message for more words. As texting has a character limit, this is a good way to cram more information into one message.

As cell phones are gaining popularity, more texts are sent daily. Many people use acronyms because it is faster, more comfortable and easier to type short words.

This abbreviated language is of course preferably used in informal settings, e.g. between friends and family members.

Acronyms and Abbreviations In Use

Nowadays, there are so many acronyms and abbreviations around, so it is impossible to list them all. Below, we will provide a few examples of acronyms and abbreviations and categorize them into 5 forms of shortened text:

– Letter Replacement: a single letter that is pronounced in the same way replaces whole syllables. “See you” simply becomes “cu”. This saves the writer time to type 4 letters (not counting the empty space between “see” and “you”) as well as 4 spaces for additional text.
– Number Replacement: In some cases, numbers may also replace strings of letters. For example “-ate-” becomes 8, as in “l8r”, “m8”. “Tomorrow” becomes “2morrow” or even “2mro”.
– Sound Replacement: It also occurs that letters that roughly sound the same replace whole strings.”Thanks” becomes “thx” and “sorry” becomes “sry”.
– Sentence/Phrase Abbreviation: Sentences and phrases may also be abbreviated. “Lol” (“laughing out loud”) is a famous example for this. “Thank you” becomes “ty”.

Combo: A combination of the above forms (“g2g” means “got to go”).

The Current Situation of Internet and SMS language

Nowadays, this type of abbreviated language does tend to cross the boundaries of the Internet and SMS fields. Many people, especially the younger generation, tend to use Internet and SMS language in other environments.

Many parents start to worry as their children incorporate Internet and SMS abbreviated slang and acronyms in school exams. Even BBC reported on this phenomenon. Children begin to forget how to spell words correctly and do not even use proper grammar in their text messages, resulting in poor grammar and spelling errors that have an effect in formal settings.

The situation becomes a grave issue when parents and the elder generations do not understand this Internet and SMS language, miscommunication rises and more problems arise in everyday life.


Even though children are very creative in finding new forms of Internet and SMS slang, the use of this language in other situations is becoming more and more of a social issue. As people increasingly prefer sending short texts instead of calling, many become accustomed to using acronyms and abbreviations. Internet and SMS language will then unexpectedly appear in written documents, resulting in an increasing amount of cryptic documents.

Even if the Internet and SMS language is being called the “new English” by some linguists, you can count on LingoStar to provide you with documents that you can understand, free of Internet or SMS lingo. Cryptic acronyms and abbreviations will never be found in our translations, as we ensure a high quality translation service for any of your language needs.