Breaking the code… are abbreviations taking over communication?

Nowadays, our generation is used to communicating in shorthand through text messaging, email and Tweets. With the limits on text messages and the 140 characters available to express yourself on Twitter, it seems logical that we can represent our message through abbreviations. However, is it taking away from the content of the message? It has become its own lingo and has decreased the need to communicate face-to-face and even over the phone. Personally, I send and receive way more text messages then phone calls each month via my cell phone.

Furthermore, older generations do not utilize the shorthand such as “LOL” (laugh out loud) or “TTYL” (talk to you later) so they are not able to communicate using these methods. In turn, this leads to miscommunication and potential misunderstanding between generations. I know that I don’t even know all the “newer” acronyms used to represent shorthand code, so we ask ourselves, is there a loophole that can blend the gap between abbreviation bridges?

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, Stephanie Raposo discusses the widespread of shorthand awareness through various websites such as and that provide definitions of “internet texting terms.” Even the AP stylebook incorporated texting shorthand, such as BFF (“Best Friends Forever”) and OMG (“Oh my God”) in the 2009 editions, according to the article. The importance of shorthand has implemented itself into our daily lives and has worked its way into the modern language. Raposo pointed out that it has also become important for parent/teenager relationships because parents are concerned about what is going on in the lives of their children, but sometimes must be able to decode their teen’s messages in order to understand and stay in touch. Luckily, branding strategists such as Elizabeth Kanna relate to these issues and maintains a “Mom’s Text Talk Sheet” a cheat sheet of acronyms created and updated by her teenage girls.

Frank Shaw expresses his opinion toward this subject on his blog, The Glass House about how it is ridiculous to for professionals to feel the need to “use the lingo” for communicating with clientele through email and texting. Shaw makes the point that it is not necessary for CEO’s of companies to email and text using shorthand and although many companies are looking for tech-savvy younger individuals to revamp some of the aspects of businesses, shorthand communication should not be completely replacing traditional, formal communication.

Overall, are abbreviations taking over modern communication or is this just a harmless form of communication to relay messages quickly in order to show progression with modern technology? Do you think that Public relations  professionals and other business professionals should be utilizing it as a way to communicate and if they do, where is the line drawn to establish professional relationships? I think it creates a creative way to communicate when you have a limited amount of characters available, but in the case of businesses and professionals, I don’t think these shorthand acronyms are necessarily important to show they are up to date with modern technology.

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7 Responses to Breaking the code… are abbreviations taking over communication?

  1. crandell says:

    I think this is a very valid discussion when it comes to the journalism industry. I think online media is challenging the traditional routines that journalists were used to for years. Along with social media comes abbreviations which could compromise credibility or reputation of a certain news organization. Social media and abbreviations open a very casual communication platform, something magazines and online publications have done before. But now with traditional news organizations forced to get a Twitter account to keep their business above water, the casual perception of lingo and their online presence could have an affect on how their audience views their company and the news organization.

  2. cmcelroy says:

    I can’t imagine a world where abbreviations are welcomed in a business setting. I don’t know about you, but when I see a “u” in place of “you,” I cringe (even when it’s in a text message or tweet). I can let it slide in those settings though, because I can sympathize with the need to economize characters in a limited space. I think there’s a time and a place for abbreviations. Sure, sometimes it’s funny to text LYLAS (love you like a sister) to your older brother, but if I ever open up a newspaper or read a press release that tries to seriously incorporate an “OMG,” it’s going straight in the trash.

    • alevy says:

      I definitely agree with this response as well as the others that ignited great insight about this topic. I think there is definitely a specific place for shorthand and it should not be implemented into the business world no matter how much it portrays a correlation with our generation and the progression of technology. Furthermore, like dolson said about high schoolers writing as if they are texting, I believe the more we use acronyms and shorthand, the more casual it will become in all aspects of writing and could eventually blur the line between professional and casual communication. As for now, I can agree that there is no harm in abbreviating our tweets and texts and other social media in which we have a limited amount of characters available. However, it is imperative to keep the line drawn between both forms of communication (casual and professional) in order to establish credibility and make sure you are targeting the appropriate audience to convey your message.

  3. dolson says:

    Using abbreviations in communications is appropriate given the limited space for tweets and texting, and that these messages are generally light in content anyway. And this isn’t something new; telegrams used abbreviated text and acronyms as well, because you paid per character. So in that specific context, I don’t have a problem with it. But when it becomes more pervasive, when you see texting acronyms in what should otherwise be a serious message (apparently high schoolers sometimes write papers as if they were texting), then it becomes a problem. One can’t write a thoughtful, serious message if you have no writing ability beyond texting.

  4. jalbaz says:

    My mom has recently learned to text and she will say things like “ttyl” and “luv” you. I think it’s funny and cute that she has caught on so quickly. She doesn’t use that lingo in emails or any other type of writing and I don’t eiher. I think there is a place for shorthand abbreviations and then there is a place where they shouldn’t be such as formal letters, essays, emails, and anything thats not a limited 140-character text such as in twitter and text messages. I rarely use abbreviations in my texts because I find them a bit childish. Also, I would hate to be that person that accidentally used an abbreviation in an email to a potential employer or in a homework assignment etc.

  5. hmick says:

    I think that there is definitely a time and a place to use abbreviations, whether it be in a public relations situation or not. I understand that brevity is a very useful tool to have but knowing the situation when to use it best is more important. My mom has just “evolved” into texting and trying to be “hip.” When she writes me text messages she is way TOO short with what she is saying. For example, if I don’t answer my phone she’ll text me and just say “call me.” Now, when I pick up my phone and see four missed calls from my mom and text that only says “call me.” I get a little worried. I think some people can take brevity to an extreme. Writing in a concise matter doesn’t mean leaving out the facts, it simply means to use your words more wisely. I think this is also tru in the case of abbreviating words like “ttyl and lol.” When writing to your boss you wouldn’t even write these words out in an e-mail, nonetheless abbreviate them. All in all, I think that using abbreviations doesn’t show a very adult-like persona and isn’t very business-like.

  6. kwashburn says:

    I think abbreviations are just an entity of the fast-paced social generation our society is becoming. With all the social networking sites out there, as well as texting, e-mails via blackberries and iPhones, iPhone applications, etc, there are so many different ways to express ourselves. It is a lot more efficient and easier to shorten what we are saying. I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with this as long as the person we are communicating with understands what we are saying. I also think abbreviations should definitely be used in context. For instance, I would never use abbreviations when e-mailing my boss, a potential boss, a formal letter to someone, etc. I think it is fine if you are talking to your family, friends, or anyone you feel appropriate using it with. It is important to remember what lingo is appropriate and what is not, depending on the person you are communicating with. Just use your best judgement.

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