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Textish, sometimes referred to as textese, txtese, textspeak, texting language, txt talk, or SMS language, is our term for all those abbreviations and slang terms born of the necessity for brevity in text messages, instant messages, and social networking. Due to the ubiquity of these communication methods, Textish has made its way into emails, web forums, web comment sections, and blogs (all mostly okay), as well as college papers and job application cover letters (less okay).

Textish takes multiple forms. Some Textish words simply rely on the sounds of letters to create shortened versions of words; for example, be becomes b, okay becomes k, see becomes c, you becomes u, and are becomes r. Similarly, numbers sometimes stand in for words—for example, 4 for for, and 2 for to and too.

Textish often mixes symbols with letters—for example, I love you becomes I <3 u—and it also combines with emoticons and Textish-specific forms of punctuation (such as the omnipresent string of periods).

This language is still in its infancy, and if it sticks around it will likely undergo substantial change. Someday elements of Textish may even enter the standard language. But for now, Textish is only considered appropriate in the most informal contexts.

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