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I am also cross with myself for the way I have adapted my own style.In the early days I treated e-mails as though they were letters.They are as close to my heart as they are to my desk because they are so much more than a useful tool.Leafing through a good dictionary in search of a single word is a small voyage of discovery - infinitely more satisfying than looking something up on the internet.

Now I find myself slipping into sloppy habits, abandoning capital letters and using rows of dots.

It has now reached the stage where my computer will not allow me to type the colon, dash and bracket without automatically turning it into a picture of a smiling face. It began with some fairly obvious and relatively inoffensive abbreviations: 'tks' for 'thanks'; 'u' for 'you'; 4 for 'for'. Instead of aiding communication it can be a barrier.

But as it has developed its users have sought out increasingly obscure ways of expressing themselves which, when you think about it, entirely defeats the purpose. With my vast knowledge of text language I had assumed LOL meant 'lots of love', but now I discover it means 'laugh out loud'. I can work out BTW (by the way) but I was baffled by IMHO U R GR8.

If the recipient of the message has to spend ten minutes trying to translate it, those precious minutes are being wasted. It means: "In my humble opinion you are great." But, once again, how would you know?

Let me anticipate the reaction to this modest little rant against the text revolution and the OED for being influenced by it. It is constantly evolving and anyone who tries to get in the way is a fuddy-duddy who deserves to be run down. One of the joys of the English language and one of the reasons it has been so successful in spreading across the globe is that it is infinitely adaptable.

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