Confessions of a Language Butcher



Hi, my name is Mary, and I am a language butcher. I gradually drifted into the habit of abbreviating the English language in my correspondence. As a passionate wordsmith, the more I texted and the faster I communicated, the more I noticed myself losing meaning in my words by chopping them into a combination of capital letters. I didn’t like that.

I did not act alone. Everyone else was doing this too. OMG, BTW, LMAO. LOL, WTF, etc., were becoming part of my vocabulary. Since I saw this as a pattern in others, I didn’t think too much of it. Until one person sent me a message ending with TTYS, and I had to have my daughter decipher it. When she did that, it occurred to me that that was something I usually spelled out. My cluelessness in interpretation made me realize that our language is disintegrating rapidly, and becoming less sincere in the process. It had me questioning my own increasing habit of language abbreviation, and made me realize that the more I tried to keep up with the latest language trends and more people I reached on a daily basis, the less connected I felt to them. For example, LOL. I enjoy the lengthy experience of laughing out loud surrounded by real people. That is so different than the fraction-of-a-second smile gleaned from the LOL version that evaporates before it can be properly savored during a FB scrolling session or quick text exchange. I eventually found myself texting people “LOL” out of obligation. And I didn’t like that either.

Abbreviated language diminishes experience. No wonder we have become such an emotionally stifled culture. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not say IHAD. Abraham Lincoln did not say 4SSYA. Neil Armstrong did not say OSSFM. And what happens if declarations of love get reduced to ILY or proposals to WYMM. Or are they already? Nothing says “I don’t fully hear you” more than I’m not going to fully spell out my response to you.

When I became enlightened to the idea that the shortening of my words correlated with the duration of feeling the emotions associated with them, I changed. Now when I fall into my old habit of abbreviating, I self-autocorrect my texting to express whole words. I owe that attention to my Earth family. I also have reverted to sending handwritten letters and notes with miraculous results. Not only has this been astronomical physical therapy for my right hand numbed from MS, but it has done wonders for my emotional health by promoting goodwill, and is heart healthy. It takes very little time to compose a short note of gratitude or appreciation, or even a “no occasion” letter to a friend, but during that time I feel a sense of meditation and relaxation. Bonus, this costs less than a buck in postage and the mutual smiles it generates are priceless. I find it amusing that so many adults are lamenting the disappearance of cursive in our younger generations, yet so few are leaving our keyboards to spend our own time resurrecting this art form.

I am also unlearning the process of using emojis to substitute sentences. This has taken a bit of practice, but I am getting more comfortable sending texts that say, “You make me smile,” “Blessings to you,” “Sending love to you today” and “Wishing you peace.” Words generated from the heart can touch deeply in a way that overused Smartphone cartoons cannot.

By the way, today I am sending you many real laugh out loud moments, joy and love. And oh my God do I ever wish you a snail mail box overflowing with real handwritten sentiments. Who knows, you may get just a note (not JAN) from me today.