Grandma's Tales

November 16, 2006

SMSish – 2

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 7:15 pm

Mmm… students in the United Kingdom are now (or will soon be) permitted to write their answers in sms lingo. I don’t know if there is a standard way to shorten words. I don’t know if all the teachers are familiar with this form of written expression. (They too send messages in this language? Horror!) But the students have a lot to cheer about. No one is going to mark the papers for wrong spelling.

Mr. Harish Trivedi, Professor at Delhi University points out in TOI that students will now begin Hamlet’s speech with “2 b r nt 2 b” and Macbeth’s famous lines will go down as “2maro, 2maro, 2maro”.

More interesting are Mr. Prathap Sutan’s arguments why sms lingo should be allowed as the language of exams.
[1] Imagine this question. “Who is the Queen of UK”? The first answer is Britney Spears, which, as you can see, is written in plain English. The second one is, Qn lizbth da 2nd. The sms-ese is the right answer. Shouldn’t you accept it?

[2] Sms-ese is an art form. It is distilled information. It does away with all pretence (like Capital letters, proper nouns, restricted use of numbers in prose, etc. I guess).

[3] When you allow sms-ese, you encourage students to chisel out extra material and become sculptors of thought. They will think about (among other things) precision in writing.

[4] Students will learn to be expressive, find fluidity of usage, and think in English.

[5] This is linguistic renaissance. The students are the authors of this change.  Developers of a brand new language. We can all now kick out the dictionaries.

He finally asks teachers to see the brilliance in sms-ese “evn az u sav tym corecn ans paperz”.

Well, my old argument stands. The new language that will emerge will still need an understanding of English pronunciation and spelling to be universally understood and  used.



  1. Hey Ma’am,
    Another awesome blog entry I should say! Yes,I do agree that’sms lingo’ shouldn’t be allowed even though I use it all the time while messaging but it gets terrifying when that lingo creeps into your writing to the extent that during exams you write ‘n’ to represent ‘and’ and ‘tht’ instead of ‘that’. It was a shocking revealation so much so that I had one of my friends change her style of messaging to get used to writing words completely. I mean she had written her lingo in her chemistry test… Now that’s major ‘rite’?!;)

    Comment by Karishma.D.Dodeja — November 17, 2006 @ 8:14 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Karishma,
    The word “rite” is good reason why you should be terrified of sms lingo. You can’t shorten “right” to “rite” since “rite” is a legitimate, meaningful word. Its meaning is different from what you’re trying to convey here.
    Karishma, if students in your college started a campaign that they too should be allowed to write answers in sms-ese, what would you do?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — November 17, 2006 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  3. Hey Ma’am!
    Good question! What would I do?? Considering the present trend in my school it’s unlikely that something of this sort would happen but if it does I would very strongly advocate against it. Most importantly I would effectively bring out my point as such a drastic move will have to undergo some careful deliberation and deep thought. I guess you could say that the strong point of any education has its basis in the language. Yes,there are some very valid points in favour of sms-ese but it would be utterly foolish to bring in the move just as fultile as trying to bring about a major attitude change in the thinking and logicality of the people. It’s like “Okay,Students are using it why not us corporates?” “Why not us journalists?” Try imagining any newspaper in sms-ese… Gives the creeps! Another valid point: What about those who don’t own a cell phone? You can’t expect them to buy one. To divulge a detail I had an English test recently in synonyms and antonyms. Quite simple ones but ‘one word’ now that’s a challenge! More than three-fourths of the class flunked. Okay,go ahead with sms-ese but atleast get your basics right…I think in this case the cons far out weigh the pros and for once lets leave something untouched without any changes as English doesn’t need any. Bottom line: No violent protests or hungama no battles or wars or strikes…lets debate and talk…if that doesn’t work…….. Simple! Gandhigiri!;)

    Comment by Karishma.D.Dodeja — November 19, 2006 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Karishma,
    First, I plan to stick to the word “smsish”. I understand the one-word challenge very well. There are quite a few arguments against, aren’t there?

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — November 19, 2006 @ 11:14 pm | Reply

  5. Hey Ma’am,
    You bet! There are so many arguments against it. It’s the most debatable topic around. To be brutally honest I started paying attention to punctuations only after your correction so you can imagine how many of them must be like me who are in dire need of correction and guidance and resorting to ‘smsish’ now?! You gotta be kidding me! 😉

    Comment by Karishma.D.Dodeja — November 24, 2006 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  6. Glad you don’t vote for Smsish!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — November 24, 2006 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

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