Language Matters March 2006: Texting and Kannada vs. Canada

Dear Language Friend,

🙂 w lngwij (“Fun with language” in text lingo)

Welcome to our March issue on the WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHERE of languages. We will discuss WHAT text messaging is, HOW it is having an impact on language and WHO is doing it. Also we will explain WHERE Kannada is spoken, and WHAT, if anything, it has to do with Canada.

Lenka de Graafova, Managing Director. Thanks for reading.

Text Messaging

Do you ever take the Skytrain or bus? Do you hate people talking loudly on cell phones and sharing their bedroom intimacies with the other passengers? Do you have no choice but to listen?

Well, loud phone exhibitionists really annoy me and I do have a choice – I text!

Texting, text messaging, SMSing or sending a short message, text or an SMS is what I’m used to from Europe. Short Message Service (SMS) is a service available on most mobile phones. It’s particularly popular in Europe and Asia due to comparatively low cost.

Popularity has grown to such an extent (500 billion messages in year 2004 sent worldwide) that the term texting (used as a verb meaning the act of cell phone users sending short messages back and forth) has entered the common lexicon.

Unfortunately, North America hasn’t quite yet discovered the magic of texting. Unlike the Europeans who send about 40 SMSs per month, North Americans send about 13. That explains why I seem to be getting strange looks when attempting to introduce a texting routine on Vancouver Skytrain. Not to mention being questioned by strangers as to what high-tech activity I’m indulging in!

This quiet, private and cheap option of texting has become the new way of communication and has resulted in the development of a whole new culture and language uncovering new social behavior.

How does one introduce and maintain bilingualism in the family?

There are many different methods, however two of the most important ones are the OPOL approach, which stands for One Person One Language, and the Time or Place Oriented Method, which means that the whole family uses one particular language in a particular place or at a particular time. In either case, the proficiency the children acquire will highly depend on the language skills of the parents and other relatives.

Abbreviated Texting – The Language Impact

HRU?M GR8.U-R a stunner!TLK-2-U-L-8-R+CU 2NITE.X-I-10!LYL.XOXO

Because of the limited message lengths and tiny user interface of mobile phones, SMS users commonly make extensive use of abbreviations, particularly the use of numbers for words (for example, “4” in place of the word “for”), the omission of vowels, as in the phrase “txt msg”, or the replacement of spaces with capitalization, such as “ThisIsVeryCool”.

So translated into English the above phrase means:

How are you? I am great. You are a stunner! Talk to you later and see you tonight. Exciting! Love you lots. Hugs and kisses.

Due to the enormous popularity of texting, a texting dictionary has been compiled and SMS lingo can be translated into English and vice versa. Check out the site below for exciting tips!

Sexy Texting – The Social Impact

The Europeans use texting for any situation: arranging and cancelling meetings, finding a friend in a crowded bar or club, sending a shopping list to their significant others, and flirting, of course! Texting has definitely become the contemporary language of love.

Texting is sexy. It’s short, mysterious, and full of hidden meanings and ambiguities. The perfect environment for flirting, wooing and courting. On the other hand, it’s tough and can cause sleepless nights of figuring out ‘what-on-earth-did-she-mean’.

Texting is non-confrontational and doesn’t provide direct feedback so it’s easy to end a relationship or cancel a date. No immediate questions are asked – there is silence on the other side. It’s easy to lie and cheat.

For example, in 2003, a Malaysian court ruled that a man may divorce his wife via text messaging as long as the message was clear and unequivocal.

In the meantime he was probably texting 10 other ladies, scheduling dates!

Kannada vs. Canada : what does the Kannada Language have to do with Canada ?

The answer to that question is: apart from a coincidental similarity in name, NOT MUCH. Kannada is one of India’s 22 official languages, and is the state language of Karnataka, one of the four southern states in India. It is spoken by approximately 55 million people in the world, not only in Karnataka, but also in neighbouring states of India, in the United Kingdom, the United States, and to a lesser extent, in Canada and Australia.

Kannada uses a 49 letter abugida derived from the Brahmi Script which is used in South and Southeast Asia, and Tibet. An abugida is a type of writing system using symbols such as that used in Kannada (shown in picture), and also in Canada: Canadian Aboriginal languages such as Inuktitut use an abugida. (See previous newsletter on Inuktitut).

So Kannada is not to be confused with Canada. But since the world gets smaller daily because of the growing ease of global communication, you never know when you might come across mention of this southern Indian language. And if you do, you will not scratch your head and say “Isn’t Canada spelled with one n and a C?” but “Ah yes, I learned all about Kannada from the LingoStar newsletter!”

LingoStar Texting Competition – Send us a text and win tickets to the European Festival!

Having read this far means you’re intrigued by text messaging. LingoStar has a draw where you can win tickets to the European Festival on May 28th! Compete to win a good time with languages, cultures, food & drink in Vancouver! Check out the link below.

Send a bright, funny and original text to 604-716 9058. The best text messages will be published in one of our future newsletters and a draw will be made. The winner will receive 2 tickets to visit the festival for free! Text from your phone or use the free online texting service at THX+BW! 😉