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It has now reached the stage where my computer will not allow me to type the colon, dash and bracket without automatically turning it into a picture of a smiling face. It began with some fairly obvious and relatively inoffensive abbreviations: 'tks' for 'thanks'; 'u' for 'you'; 4 for 'for'. Instead of aiding communication it can be a barrier.
But as it has developed its users have sought out increasingly obscure ways of expressing themselves which, when you think about it, entirely defeats the purpose. With my vast knowledge of text language I had assumed LOL meant 'lots of love', but now I discover it means 'laugh out loud'. I can work out BTW (by the way) but I was baffled by IMHO U R GR8.
I tried to construct proper, grammatical sentences and used punctuation that would have brought a smile to the lips of that guardian of our language, Lynne Truss.
Now I find myself slipping into sloppy habits, abandoning capital letters and using rows of dots.
If the recipient of the message has to spend ten minutes trying to translate it, those precious minutes are being wasted. It means: "In my humble opinion you are great." But, once again, how would you know?
The sixth edition has just been published and - I feel a small shudder as I write these words - it has fallen victim to fashion. Indeed, you may well have functioned perfectly well until now spelling leapfrog without a hyphen. My old friend Amanda Platell, who graces these pages on Saturdays, has an answerphone message that says the caller may leave a message but she'd Of course it should.
It has removed the hyphen from no fewer than 16,000 words. The spell-check (sorry: spellcheck) on my computer is happy with both. There are fewer letters in that hideous word and think how much time I could have saved typing it.) The texters also have economy on their side.