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Do you recognize each of those abbreviations? If not, they stand for:

Laughing on line.

Rolling on floor laughing.

Parents over shoulder.

Talk to you later.

Ta ta for now.

I wonder how many times each day, those and other shortcuts like them are transmitted via text or instant message, or email. I think it would be even more interesting to know the age breakdown of the folks using those abbreviations. Are they the vernacular of teenagers? Twenty-somethings? Or Baby Boomers?

Actually, they are used by all age groups.

Does all the text messaging, emailing, commenting on blogs, and other forms of shortcutting impact the quality of our writing such that tomorrowโ€™s adults will be less competent writers?

The results of a recent survey might surprise you, as they did me.

I never hand-write documents other than checks, a note for the cleaning lady or the occasional Hallmark card. I began typing all of my work in high school and continued right through law school (I typed every law school exam, and even took a back-up typewriter with me to the Bar Examination, lest my well-used Brother conk out in the middle of an essay question).

However, a new survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that two-thirds of American high school students complete their assignments by hand, rather than using the computer. In fact, for personal writing outside school, longhand is even more popular. It is the preferred form for nearly three-quarters of teens. Not as surprisingly, teenagers who blog are more likely to engage in personal writing and tend to believe that writing will prove crucial to their eventual success in life.

Their parents were found more likely than teens to believe that Internet-based writing such as e-mail and instant messaging affects writing overall, though both groups are split on whether the electronic communications help or hurt. Nonetheless, 73 percent of teens and 40 percent of parents believe Internet writing makes no difference either way.

However, two-thirds of the students who responded to the survey admitted that abbreviations such as those listed above and emoticons like ๐Ÿ™‚ have slipped into their school assignments and other formal writing. In fact, not surprisingly, they are more likely to find their way into the work of students who blog or use sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

Parents and teenagers disagree on the question of whether such informal writing impacts young peopleโ€™s development of formal writing skills. 73 percent of the teens believe that internet writing techniques make no difference and do not effect their ability to write well in other settings, but only 40 percent of the parents who answered the survey questions felt the same way.

What do you think? Have you caught an occasional โ€œLOLโ€ or โ€œTTYLโ€ slipping into your business correspondence or formal writing? Or did it happen without you noticing so that it was brought to your attention by the recipient of the communication? Is โ€œinternet writingโ€ having any impact upon your real world skills? Leave a comment!


  1. I’m in the legal profession so it would probably be suicidal career-wise for me to write LOL in a company memo. But in my personal life I’ve actually caught myself saying “brb” out loud.. It sounds like buhrb… Luckily all my friends are tech savvy so they know what I’m saying.

    Legal Andrews last blog post..Tampa Law Firms Benefit From Foreclosures

  2. When i first started to email about 10 years back, LOL used to mean lots of love, strangely but now it very much stands for laugh on line or lots of laughs or laugh out loud. Strange, even short forms evolve!

    Then in text message lingo there is gr8, CU, TTYS, and goodness knows how many more!

  3. I can see how using these could start to seep into your everyday talk as well as your writing in times when it is not appropriate. I worry about my daughter (since she is the text queen), but she actually did extremely well on the reading and writing portion of her ACT.

  4. I’m glad to see that most teenagers prefer longhand for personal writing! I don’t think it has impacted my personal writing, but I do use the occasional ๐Ÿ™‚ or ๐Ÿ™ to make my tone more audible in post comments. I find my comments come across a little too stodgy otherwise!

    Nodin’s Nests last blog post..Space Adventure

  5. It hasn’t affected my writing because I resist using those abbreviations outside of IM and Skype chats, but on the occasion when I’m posting things to certain websites (*cough* fanfction.net *cough*) I see a lot of kids using text-speak even more extreme than what you posted in their actual stories, and on the forums.

    Computing so much HAS affected my writing in another way – I have carpal tunnel that is bad enough that the physical act of writing is no longer pleasurable for me, and my handwriting is really awful. For a pen snob, this is most upsetting.

  6. I’m a journalist and a blogger, but I am very careful not to use these in my writing especially in journalism! I do however you these when writing to friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Amys last blog post..Baby Steps

  7. Sleep Aid

    I think that I have found the more I use the shortcuts instead of spelling things out the more lazy my writing has become. I try to encourage my kids not to do this so they get good writing habits.

  8. I thought LOL was Laughing Out Loud?

    I always typed my papers for school, it was a requirement, if I remember correctly. And this was in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, so I can imagine it would be a requirement today… However, everything else I did was handwritten. The computer we had at home then wasn’t capable of much! Today I still handwrite a lot, and when I was taking college courses, the only thing I typed was papers, as well.

    I never made the mistake of letting LOL, etc. show up in my schoolwork, though.

    Stefanies last blog post..Organic & Natural Personal Care Products

  9. moneysmart

    As somebody that has meddled with online editing quite a bit I can definitely see that young peoples writing has changed, mostly when it comes to using apostrophes in the right place. Or maybe we are al just becoming lazy with that.

  10. Baby Won't Sleep

    I’ve finally accepted abbreviations as part of email writing among friends, but I would never use them in formal writing and not even on my blogs.

  11. My daughters do most of their assignments on the computer. In school, it is more long hand. I don’t think LOL etc., have gotten into mainstream school writing yet. But I suspect it will.

    After all, we no longer use, “thou shalt not steal” kind of English anymore do we?

  12. I have this absolute double standard when it comes to ”evolving” the English language. On one hand I do feel it’s a pity that words are simplified or flat out extinct but I suppose we can’t walk around sounding like Shakespeareans. It’s all so very confusing ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. moneycrunch

    I started using IM and chats very late and still can’t get myself to use abbreviations. Not sure what it is about it but it does look so wrong, especially as an adult. I do like ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. shoemonger

    I am sooo very guilty of using abbreviations all the time. I know it’s bad but I guess I’m just lazy. That might be a terrible thing…

  15. I can see this being a problem for the really young kids, like the kids in elementary school right now. Im right in the middle of this age group thats average and super-tech, so i think thats why I don’t really let those mistakes slip.

    Great Read.

  16. FashionBrain

    Hmm, not sure but isn’t this what it normally sounds like when ‘grown-ups’ are discussing the younger generation? Personally, I can’t get enough of hand writing, everything from letters and cards to diary but maybe that’s just me.

  17. I think that nothing can quite replace the hand written letter or card, but that said there is the necessity to understand that short forms will abound in any sms or e-mail that you send.

  18. I am agree with you that teens believe that internet writing techniques make no difference and do not effect their ability to write well in other settings.They should not think in this way.

    fahrrads last blog post..Aufbau des Fahrrads

  19. I have heard people of all ages using the abbreviations that you mention above and more. There are is even a cell phone commercial that shows 3 different generations of people talking to each other all using abbreviaitoins and nothing else. Great post very interesting.

    crranchess last blog post..Hunting Elk in New Mexico with a Rifle

  20. Jane @ Kidzarama

    It kind of makes sense that handwriting would be becoming more popular with teens & the trend will probably continue as children with earlier exposure to computers mature.

    After all, anything that’s ‘different’ is cool for teenagers, isn’t it?

    And it makes sense to me too that writing skills are better recognised as important now, as almost everyone has a blog or knows someone who has one.

    ~ The internet is full of people who rocketed from obscurity through their blog & made money at it too (regardless of how rare that really is in reality).

    It’s bound to effect teens’ worldview.

    Jane @ Kidzaramas last blog post..Loving my Kids to Piecesโ€ฆ

  21. A lot of people I know use abbreviations, I don’t however. They drive me nuts. I don’t like em at all and wish they would go away, but I have accepted they are here to stay.

  22. Michigan Seo

    OMG is the only acronym that use. Everything else is to high school, giggling girls in the back of the class stuff.

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