Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's like learning a whole new language

Joel and I get to deal with teenagers and early twenty-somethings on a regular basis. All of our students are in that age group (most, anyway...I've had a few "moms" to teach here and there). In the last few years it has become apparent that this age group does not know how to communicate like the rest of the human race.

Telephone? Forget it. They never answer, listen to voice mail, or call you back.

E-mail? They might read it once a week, and if they do, they certainly don't know how to hit the reply button.

In person? This occasionally works. But only if you catch them at a really good time.

Nope. These people communicate in two mediums and two mediums only: Texting and Facebook.

The only reason I got myself a Facebook account a couple years ago was so that I could actually get a hold of my students (of course, it's become a monster since then and I use it for much more than that!). Joel (who is really quite adamantly against such things) finally succumbed last summer and signed up. It is fairly effective for getting in contact with these kids, or sending mass communications and such.

Texting, though, is even better. The only problem with both of these modes of communication is that you basically have to learn a new language to even decipher your messages. Thankfully, teenagers still understand English (but who knows how long that will last?), so we really only need a reading fluency here. I know a few of the acronyms from hanging out on message boards online, but admittedly, lots of them I have to look up.

Joel, on the other hand, is completely lost in the land of text-speak.

For example, the other night, Joel was grading tests at home and we had the following conversation.

Joel: What does IDK mean?

Me: I don't know.

Joel: I really wish these kids wouldn't put answers like this on tests. Now I guess I need to go look it up.

Me: Joel. I told you. It means "I don't know."

Joel: Oh.

Like I said, I often have to look up things beyond your basic LOL, OMG, IDK, ROFL, LMBO and ROFLMBO. A few days ago Joel received a text from a student while we were driving and asked me to read it to him. I thought I knew who it was from until at the end it said PLH.

Me: Who is PLH?

Joel: Nobody. I don't have any student with those initials. Besides, they have all been putting that at the end of texts lately.

Me: What does it mean?

Joel: I have no idea. I just ignore it.

It bugged me enough that I sat there trying to figure out what this unfamiliar acronym could possibly mean. People Live Here? Pierrot Lunaire's Hair? Please Leave Hamburgers?

Then we looked it up: Peace, Love, Happiness.

Ahhhh, of course.

Obviously, I'm not as text-speak fluent as I had hoped.


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Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Texting is truly a new language or different. My kids love it.

  2. Ah, texting. I can't do it. I'm too anal. It even drives me nuts to put u instead of you. Although, come to think of it, I don't like using the phone either. So maybe I should learn.


  3. Ugh, I know! The Tailor has this problem with his students (19- and 20-year olds, and soon, if he gets the job he's interviewing for tomorrow—fingers crossed!!!—it'll be 14- and 15-year olds). He'll email them to set up meetings or answer their questions. No response. When he sees them in class next he'll ask about it, and they'll say, "Oh, I haven't checked my email in a week." Argh! And he doesn't have a cell phone, and I had text messages disabled from mine because I can't stand them! I guess we're just old grumps...

    I vote we bring back the passenger pigeon. Who's with me?!?

  4. I really dislike "text-speak." Acronyms just bug me so bad! But I think I'd rather text speak over people who don't listen to messages. I hate when I leave a message, and a few minutes later they call back and are like..."Did you call me?" and I say, "yeah, no hang up and listen to the message I left you!"

  5. Luckily, I have a 16 year old daughter that I can ask when I need to know what some of that stuff means...

  6. Text lingo drives me nuts!!! It's hard to read and grammatically incorrect. I took texting off my phone because I never used it. Maybe someday...

  7. I don't get text lingo at all. I learned IDK from my 11-year-old recently--and she doesn't text. Go figure.

  8. It's SOOOO true!!

    And what is going on with IE and Blogger! I keep getting some error message.

  9. Yeah, I don't text. People text me, but I am so bad at actually charging my cell phone that I have been completely left behind on the texting bandwagon.

  10. my question to all that is were do you go to look it up?? I'm the same way my siblings are all younger then me and I'm trying to plan a big 50th for my mom and the only way i can talk to them is texting and i get one sent and they have already replied i cant keep up

  11. I don't know any of the texting language either. Seriously when I firt started blogging and someone put ROFL in a comment I had to ask others what the heck it meant. I still don't know all of them--oh well. I guess I am just old!!

  12. Only two I knew that you typed were LOL and OMG. So I guess I don't even know the basic ones. . . But I admit that I use LOL way too much sometimes.

  13. Wow! I know LOL. Way to go!

  14. That is so funny! I have never heard of PLH. Maybe I will text my younger siblings and siblings-in-law and use that so they will think I am "hip."

  15. Yeah, I'm completely clueless on most of the acronyms as well. I had to ask a friend what ROFL meant when she put it at the end of a comment on my blog. I think I may have figured out ROFLMBO while reading your blog, but have never seen it before. I guess I'm just not cool.

  16. Oh man, you and me both. My text messages end up being really, really long because I love spelling everything out. Correction: I'm compulsive about spelling everything out.

  17. The English language is text at a time

  18. I've just really got into texting but even I didn't know that one. I guess I'm not as young and hip as I thought. Man 30 is sure creeping up on me! LOL! (Lauging Out Loud ;o)

  19. My kids tried to teach me some of the acronyms I didn't know about the other night. Funny!

    Good for you guys trying to reach these teens on their turf. Too many adults are just stubborn about it and like to berate kids. That serves no purpose except to alienate them. Plus, technology is like a speeding train... it is not going to stop.

  20. I'll admit I don't know some of your list of basic text acronyms. And, I don't like texting. I'm sure if I still had a cell and spent some time with it, I'd be better. But, as it is now, whenever I have to send a text on Matt's cell, I just get frustrated pushing the dumb buttons 1-4 times depending on the letter I need (yes, it does have that figure out what you want option-but, it's not the default, so yet another thing to figure out). I used to think I was quite tech savy, but I've been left behind.

    Oh, and why do they even use some of these acronyms? Would any of them actually say, Peace, Love and Happiness when they were done with a conversation?

  21. A few years ago, I designed a scrapbook line for Imaginisce called Kewl Stuff. The theme was assigned to me, and it was supposed to be a line targeted to teenage girls. Specifically, the company had me design rubons and a paper using text message abbreviations. Yeah. Let's just say I had to do a lot of research...

  22. uh, yeah...right there with you!

    (You think because you're still relatively young that you're up on the slang, etc. And then you get a text that you absolutely can't figure out, and you feel completely out of touch!)

    I hate feeling old!

  23. I still spell it out when I text my daughter and hubby. And I ask them to do the same. LOL That way I'm not wasting time racking my brain figuring out what they just wrote.

  24. ahhh, "PLH" -- of course! That's a new one for me.

    Thanks for the mini-slang lesson! I need more of these.

  25. Pierrot Lunaire's hair! Bwahahaha! Only you (and Joel)! M's completely against facebook, too, and has, as of yet, managed to stay away from it. He says it's because he has to maintain a professional public profile, and I guess I understand that. But his classes also each use a website for announcements, assignment submissions and stuff. He gets SO mad when they use text speak in papers, though! :)