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Monday, October 31, 2011

Business Writing Tip: Text Speak

Last week a Wisconsin teen won $50,000 for the 2011 LG U.S. National Texting Championship. The contestants competed in several challenges, ending with the “Text Attack” challenge. The finalists had to type as quickly and accurately as possible. Accurately? By whose standards?

I think vanity license plates are easier to figure out than text messages. Earlier this month I wrote about corporate speak and its readability problems, although is text speak any easier to understand?

awgthtgtta degt b/c i’m awltp
What the heck does that mean? Translation: Are we going to have to go through this again? Don’t even go there because I’m avoiding work like the plague.

Spell check obviously has problems with the spelling of that text message; however, the Flesch Reading Ease Scale gives it a score of 100, which means it’s easy to read. Really? Dr. Flesch didn’t figure text speak into the formula.
Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, writes that while there are many positive aspects of social media, Generations Y and Z have difficulty with writing and face-to-face interactions. Even though these groups are writing more, they’re not following grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules. Plus most words look like typos.
So, is text speak appropriate for business communication, including blogs and e-mails? Remember, you want to write a document so your audience understands it.
What do you think? Will text speak become the new standard? What did you think when OMG and LOL were added to The Oxford English Dictionary? Do you think that’s the death of language?

Judy Beaver, The Office Pro
Founder of National Proofreading Day

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