Sunday, June 7, 2009


At the risk of sounding uncool and not-with-the-times, let me say this: I hate SMS. No, I don’t hate the act of sending and receiving text messages, it can be fun at times; what I hate is the language used. Okay I know there are only so many characters that you can fit in one message and if you shorten every word you save space and thus save money, but do we need to abbreviate each and every word? “Cl me bck as soon as u get dis msg.” “Wer r u? if u dnt want to c me, fyn!”. And not content with our text messages, we are letting this new abbreviated language spill on to everything we write. How much effort does it take to write on your computer “I would like it very much if you can come over and maybe we can all go for a movie” instead of “I wud lyk it very much if u cn come over and myb we can ol go 4 a movie.” I'm not an English teacher, but I know English teachers the world over are crying over this, and I've read hundreds of pieces condemning this growing butchering of the English language.

Back in 98/99 when text messaging was still a new concept in India I remember reading an article about SMS-es and how useful they are and how it can help you stay in touch with anyone anytime. The author was saying how he was at a Bryan Adams concert and was SMS-ing to his girlfriend “da only thing dat luks gud on me is you” and I thought, wow this is cool. A few years later when I got my first mobile phone I remember sending SMS-es all the time, it was fun and addictive. To this day I still send the occasional SMS, but I now prefer making a short phone call. I don’t think I could survive a barrage of newly formed words slowly filling up my inbox.

We are all aware that Mizo is also under heavy fire in this battle of words, with new spellings popping up every now and then. I do admit I also tend to abbreviate, but it is mostly in replacing “aw” with “o”, as in “Voiin chu ka ron kal don.” Nothing much beyond this. I cringe when I see youngsters today write, “In rn kal dn lo anh cuan mn rn silh mey ru o.” I once got an SMS from a friend that I couldn’t understand at all; I called him back and asked what the message was all about.

I'm not trying to preach here or be pedantic or act like a know-it-all. If you want to write in a language that mystifies and perplexes in its compression and metamorphosis of already existing words, absolutely fine by me, it’s your phone/keyboard/pen, write as you please, it’s your life. But I hope and pray I am not the recipient of such magnificent compositions; you don’t want to give an old girl a heart attack, do you?


  1. AAh! i hate "O" for "aw" in Mizo texts. I hate omission of vowels, but lately I seem to have succumbed to pressure and habituation. And yes, I also prefer to use short calls over sms. Of course, Airtel charging 1 Rupee for sms doesnt help.
    And i hate it when people get bugged when i dont reply messages! My phone, my time!

  2. i rd ur blog and i lyk it vry mch. i agri tht txt msnging is ruining evrythng. u cnt undrstnd nt only in txt msngng. its also whyl chttng on yahoo msngr. it takes up mor of my tym tryng to dcphr wht was typd in txt lnguage. in fct its evn hrdr to type in txt lngng than to type in prpr Englsh. whew. ka hah vek he thil ka type lai hian.

  3. OP - Airtel is charging you 1 rupee per sms? Now that is expensive. With my current plan it's 30p per sms, but that still doesn't make me want to increase my thumb exercises. And as much as you hate people who got bugged by your not replying their messages, I hate people who give missed calls and get mad when I don't call them back.

    Mos - ka chhiar zawng ringawt pawn ka lo hah, you just gave me a semi-heart attack. Maybe they should come out with a dictionary kind of thing "How to decipher SMS language" etc etc.

  4. I think chat lingo came first so all you chat addicts are guilty to some extent, you know! I've had a few text messages in Mizo too that I didn't quite get but I never bothered to find out. Personally I prefer being msged to being called because calls can come at inopportune moments and that's what I figure with some of my friends especially the mothers with small kids.

  5. It's true online chats were in a way responsible for this destruction of language, but I guess we're all together in this. And if you're trying to get in touch with a mother with small kids then sending an SMS must make more sense, that is if it is not something urgent.

  6. SMS language is one of my pet peeves, but the new age radicals will tell you 'language has to evolve'. I still prefer to use 'normal' language tho, even on sms. I also dislike people who try to carry out entire conversations with you on sms. I think it's much easier to simply call.

  7. Language has to evolve, yes, but not this way. This is more like deliberate sabotage. I too try to use normal language as much as I can, on the rare occasions that I send text messages.

  8. Agree with you to a great extent. SMS is crudifying language. Didn't i get mad when my student used @ for 'at' in his English assignment!
    All the same, i often succumb to the temptation when messaging.

  9. I remember reading an article in Times of India, about the worrisome teachers complaining about the usage of sms-language by their students during exams.
    And last year, we had a Written K.T.P Bible Quiz Competition, and judges were not happy with the spellings used. "Cuan" instead of "Chuan", "lom" instead of "lawm" and many more. And i think the younger generation are being more careless to this matter.
    And how i hate "mey mey" instead of "mai mai". It doesnt even reduce the number of letters!

  10. mesjay - I have to admit I sometimes use @ in place of "at", but only if I'm sure the other party doesn't mind my doing so, sometimes you cannot resist the temptation but sometimes you are not even aware you are doing the wrong thing. We live in such difficult times!

    Mimi - "cuan"is another one that bugs me no end. Yes the younger generation is definitely more careless (as compared to us "older" folks hehe). KTP ho chuan naupang ho chu ko khawm se hau hrep se ni mai lawm.

  11. I think all of us here have one thing in common - our hate for this shortcut nonsense. Sometimes... I dont reply to such sms. Yeah sue me.

    I mean, like many of the comments above, I dont mind a few short cuts. But there are a few who use it because its "stylish", rather than the fact that it is less time consuming or cheaper if it exceeds the 140 char limit. aaargh.

  12. Cuan tih a C instead of Ch hi kan khawchhak unaute tih dan phung pangai a nia. A bak zawng hi chu tih tur nei lo ho hna. Message type ai chuan phone keuh khan kan sawi tam zawk daih!

  13. Try to get use to it!! :D
    Phone ka neih tirh hian keipawh ka buai ve deuh trep thin, mahse tunah chuan Mos-a comment te hi harsatna nei miah lo in ka chhiar/type thei. Khitiang ang a mi in min ron text chuan khitiang ang khian ka reply a, word pangngai a min rawn text chuan word pangngai in ka reply mai!! Easy!!! :D

  14. Haha! Kei pawh text message reply ai chuan call let ka thlang thin.

    SMS ka nin nachhan pathumte:
    (1) Spelling chhiar har lutuk.
    (2) Reply nghah.
    (3) Ka tan chuan keypad tereuhte a message type hrim hrim hi hmanhmawh phei chuan a ngaihna a awm lo.

    kum 3-4 vel liamta a 100 free sms (daily) a awm thin lai pawh khan ka thiante chuan an hmang zo deuh ngei ngei thin a. Kei chu 10 pawh ka thawn tling ngai meuh lo!

    Thatchhiat thlak in ti maithei. Mahse sms hriatthiam har deuh chhiar zawh hnu a reply a, second engemawzat a rawn reply nghah leh ai chuan phone call ka thlang zawk tho tho. But thats just my opinion...

  15. I think the whole idea of texting is to reduce the no. of letters so as to shove as many words as possible, kinda like sending a telegram, which was kinda common while I was in hostel, cos' there were no mobiles then. Talking to home for 5 mins left you 60/- poorer.
    Texting is great for really short messages like..
    "On my wy"
    "wht tme u cming?"
    "gt d tickts" etc etc
    But not for sending a whole goddamn sentence, cos' it kinda beats the whole purpose... I think..

  16. Kima – Agree with you there, people write in this gobbledygook just to appear stylish and hip and prove that they are following the crowd, which crowd I don’t even want to know.

    VaiVa – tihtur neilo hna…hahaha .. a nih duh hmel khawp mai..”cuan” tih hi chhiar rik chuan “suan” tih emaw “kuan” tih emaw a lam tur ni awm tak a ni…te ka tia..

    wonderboy – Get used to it? Horror of horrors, no way! It’s like accepting an error which I know I can and should rectify. And do you know what happens when you get used to this kind of language? Your mind is led to believe there is nothing wrong in writing this way and you unconsciously end up using this language at the most inappropriate times, such as in the KTP quiz that Mimi mentioned above.

    Tetea – Kan in draw! Keipawh keypad tereuhte kheuh neuh neuh hi ka peih miah lo, chubakah ka phone hi touch screen ania thil type hian ni lo pui pui hi ka lo hmet leh thin a, call hmeks mai hi ka tan chuan awlsam zawk. Thil hmanhmawh thlak deuh ah phei chuan call hi a tha zawk fe.

    blackestred – You hit the nail right on the head there. Texting should be for short messages, not for “sending a whole goddamn sentence.” You sent telegrams while you were studying? I thought nobody really sent telegrams except the military guys. I too remember the expensive STD days, when there were time slots like from so-and-so time till so-and-so time you can call for one-fourth of the STD rate, and then there were one-third, and half rates. Used to get up early just to avail the one-fourth/one-third rates and would call up home and speak in a half-asleep bleary voice.

  17. 'Cuan' for 'Chuan' te hi chu a nep lutk zawk. Nau te ho class 11,12, B.A. 1st yr, 2nd zir ho text messages in hmu toh em? "K nai ltk ce nya, min nai veyem.. xanyn cu mut cuak myah lo .. ege kn soy ag.. i xkthey lo emya.." Zir pawh ka zir thiam toh lo. Chuan punctuations engmah dah lova sentence thui lutuk type duah ching an om bok a.. "I dam em hmani khan ka hmu che a mahse i om na kha hla bok sia ka ron au lo che nih kha ron len ka tum ania tun kar hian lo om ngei2 ang che mahse in pa alo len chuan min ngei lovang tiro dot soi lo cuan i celo ka tia lom ka soi ngam lova a hma khan".. and it goes on and on.Tunlai 'style' thar leh chu 'o' for 'aw' ni toh lovin 'w' for 'aw'.. 'o' poh kha poi lo fee zawk.