Editor’s Note: Writing words in abbreviated forms and then adding smileys while sending an SMS might be fun. But if the same is done while writing then it becomes unacceptable. Our member Ansuya tells us more. Share your thoughts with us on this topic here. 

All writing is not equal. In other words, we have to change our tone, vocabulary, writing style, etc. to suit the context of what we are writing. We must consider our audience and their needs. Above all, we should always aim for maximum readability. It is rude (in my opinion) to express yourself in a way that makes it difficult for people to understand what you are saying quickly and easily. 

So, the “big deal” about SMS or chat-style words is attention to detail, consideration for your audience, and plain good manners. The problem with chat abbreviations is they are not standardized, like language is. Your abbreviation (that is, one you regularly use in your circles of family and friends) may not be one I share. Thus, reading your post, studded as it is with a mind-boggling variety of butchered words and phrases, becomes like an entirely new and unreadable language for me. It is not a question of people refusing to “learn such words”, but rather, people preferring to write as they were taught, in a way that is understandable to everyone (or most). 

The other thing that abbreviations do is impede reading speed. A lot of readers of the forums skim through entries until they find something that catches their eye (it’s impossible to read fully through everything, with all the new, good stuff posted here every day). A post written in shorthand, with no regard for the conventions of language or grammar, makes skimming very hard. 

I’ve often given up in total despair upon trying to read a post that is written in unintelligible shorthand, and worse, I often assume that someone who can’t take the time to compose a well-written post may not necessarily have anything worthwhile to say. That may sound like I’m just being a pompous snob, but the reality of it is, just as we are judged by our levels of hygiene, neatness, and cleanliness in appearance, our levels of education and intellect are judged by how we choose to express ourselves.

As for the whole world being behind such forms, I’m not sure that’s strictly true. Anyone who cares a jot for the sanctity of language and believes in writing or speaking with style and flair would hardly resort to such abbreviations. If you’re writing an sms and you’re pressed for time (or your fingers hurt), or if you’re chatting online with your best friend you’ve known for 20 years, then maybe it is appropriate to use such familiar forms. But if you’re writing for a general audience, more conventional forms are not only appropriate, they are necessary. Besides, I’ve always been suspicious of doing something “just because everyone else is doing it”.

I hope this has given you some clarity into the motivation behind not using SMS language. At the end of the day, no one here can stop you using the kind of language you want to (within reason). But I hope you will appreciate that this guideline has been created by the administrators and moderators to maintain the high standards of these forums. Oh, and I’d love to hear a counter-argument to all of this, so those of you in favour of shorthand, go on and explain it to me!