LOL! BRB! If you already know what those things mean (“laughing out loud” or “lots of laughs” and “be right back”), then chances are you might know a thing or two about texting.

The abbreviations and slang that are most commonly used to send brief text messages via mobile phones are known as SMS language. You might have also heard them called a wide variety of other things, including textspeak, textese, txt-speak, txtese, chatspeak, txtspk or texting language.

SMS itself is an abbreviation for the “short message service” communication protocol. In addition to text messages, SMS language is also often used on the Internet in emails and instant messaging.

The popularity of SMS language has exploded in the past several years. As mobile phones have grown in popularity, so has SMS language. You’ll often see SMS language used in television shows and movies.

Although SMS language has grown more popular recently, it’s certainly not a new invention. People have been looking for ways to abbreviate long phrases and communicate more efficiently for hundreds of years.

For example, many SMS language phrases are similar to those used long ago when sending telegraph messages. Since people sending telegraphs were charged by the word, it wasn’t long before people were looking for ways to shorten their messages in order to save money.

SMS language takes advantage of all different sorts of abbreviations consisting of numbers and letters. For example, “wrud?” is a common abbreviation for the phrase “what are you doing?” Likewise, “l8r” stands for the word “later.”

The goal of SMS language is to use the fewest number of characters possible. This helps when dealing with the space constraints of text messaging via mobile phone, since some mobile phone carriers limit the number of characters for each message.

SMS language also helps users to type less and communicate faster. Often, SMS language messages can mean more than one thing, so users must interpret the intended meaning from the context of the message.

One side effect of communicating via SMS language is that punctuation, grammar and capitalization are usually ignored. This has led some people to be critical of students using SMS language. Some fear that using SMS language too much might have a negative effect on students’ language skills.

Those fears may be unfounded, though. Both David Crystal and Dr. Nanagh Kemp have studied SMS language and found that its use actually coincides with a good grasp of grammar and phonetics. Their studies show that SMS language may lead to an overall improvement in literacy levels in students.

25 Join the Discussion

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    • We really appreciate your enthusiasm for Wonderopolis, Aparajita! It’s awesome hearing from Wonder Friends like you who enjoy learning right along with us! Have a SUPER FANTASTIC day! :-)

  1. THIS WONDER WAS AWESOME! I think tomorrow’s wonder is on parrots OR different kinds of birds!

    • We like that guess for tomorrow’s Wonder a LOT, Betsy! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis bright and early in the morning to see if your guess will “take flight!” Thanks for making our Wonder smiles a little wider today by sharing such an AWESOME comment! :-)

  2. Today’s WONDER made me think about a hand motion I use with my mom and my sister. My hand is shaped like LOV

    I think tomorrow’s wonder is about chickens. TWODR!

    • Thanks for letting us know that you think this Wonder ROCKS, Aparajita! Here’s one for you: WHYHAWD (We Hope You Have A WONDERful Day)!!! :-)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I loved today’s wonder! I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about birds that have feathers.

    I didn’t leave a comment yesterday because I was too busy.

    Remember back on wonder of the day #629 – Do robots wonder? I thought wonder of the day #630 was that what can glaciers damage and I was wrong. Wonder of the day #630 was not that what can glaciers damage. Wonder of the day #630 was What is a fjord?

    TJ

    • We think your guess was close enough, TJ! Fjords were caused by glaciers a long, long time ago! Thanks for letting us know what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! We think that’s a GREAT guess! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Nice Wonder! My friends and I created a secret language once. It was really fun. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about balloons/helium or like Betsy said, parrots or different kinds of birds.
    XOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

    • Both of your guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder are AWESOME, Betsy! Thanks for sharing them with us! We think it’s super neat that you and your friends once created a secret language! How FUN! :-)

    • Hi there, Rahul! Thanks so much for visiting today’s Wonder and leaving us a comment to let us know you stopped by! We hope you are enjoying your week so far! You are an AMAZING Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your favorite codes with us, Morgan! We’re super happy you stopped by today’s Wonder for some extra FUN learning with us! We hope you have a SUPER day! :-)

  5. IRLTWOTD, AIRLTSMS, IJLI. [I really like the wonder of the day, and I really like the short message service, I just love it], SYT [see you tomorrow]. ICSMFTL, [I can show my friends the language]. :-)

    • That’s a LOT of cool code, Carlos! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! WSGYOWF (We’re So Glad You’re Our Wonder Friend)! :-)

    • We really like that code, Zion! Thanks for letting us know you love Wonderopolis! You are an AWESOME Wonder Friend! WHYVWAT (We Hope You Visit Wonderopolis Again Tomorrow)! :-)

    • We think both of those codes ROCK, Wonder Girl! TSMFBAWWF (Thanks So Much For Being A WONDERful Wonder Friend)! :-)

  6. I LIKED TODAY’S WONDER I THINK…..yes letters can talk be cause if you text in all caps, THAT MEANS I’M YELLING. So I agree with everyone who says yes. All who say yes…..YOU ROCK!! :D

    • Great point, Anna! Font has a certain way of talking to us when we’re reading! We hope you have a SUPER FABULOUS Day! :)

  7. I all ready new about lol and things like that but I never thought of making
    up my own with my BFF

    Thanks For The Idea, Aliex

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can letters talk?
  • Is SMS language a new invention?
  • Does using SMS language hurt your language skills?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to create a few new texting codes of your own? Here are a few Wonderopolis-related codes you might want to share with your family and friends:

  • COTWOD! (Check out today’s Wonder of the Day!)
  • IWWTWODIGTBA? (I wonder what tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is going to be about?)
  • ILW! (I love Wonderopolis!)
  • TWODR! (Today’s Wonder of the Day rocks!)

Do you have some others you’ve created by yourself? If so, post them on Facebook and tell all your Wonder Friends what they mean! WCWTSWYCUW! (We can’t wait to see what you come up with!)

Still Wondering

Use ReadWriteThink’s Letter Generator interactive tool to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of communication.

Wonder What’s Next?

Fly on back to Wonderopolis tomorrow for an all-new feathery Wonder of the Day!

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