The often unnecessary and sometimes exasperating use of abbreviations and acronyms have become a staple of our communication diets. They have slipped into everyday use in modern day communication. Even though abbreviations or shortened form of words or phrases are sometimes required in writing or typing, especially when taking lengthy notes or in using the short message service, many of us take its usage too far. Nowadays, a good percentage of young adults and even older people have caught the bug of excessively using abbreviations in written communication. It has assumed a worrying dimension as it is succeeding in polluting the English language, as well as encouraging growing laziness in young adults in particular.
The use of abridged forms of words is understandable especially in sending text messages, chats or in social media communication as it is usually employed to save time or in order to make judicious use of available space in a situation where one is limited to a certain number of characters. Nevertheless, in recent times even when people have ample time and space to communicate effectively, they would rather opt for frivolous acronyms than write or type intelligibly. A typical example is the commonly used “HBD” an acronym for “Happy Birthday.” How difficult is it really to wish a person a happy birthday by spelling out the words properly considering the fact that birthdays are only once in a year and oftentimes we aren’t even likely to see the celebrant that day or get them a gift. This may sound trivial but when we use constricted form of words or phrases, more often than not it drastically waters down the effect of our message. Personally, I appreciate people that go out of their way to type “Happy Birthday” in full compared to those who send “HBD” to me on my birthday because it comes across as more deliberate and thoughtful however strange that may sound.
The same goes for congratulatory or goodwill messages like “Happy Wedding Anniversary” which many of us would rather send as “HWA.” Some even type “Happy Children’s Day” as “HCD”, which I consider to be rather inappropriate as it is a message generally aimed at celebrating children all over the globe! Now, let’s analyse this together; How for instance is my six year old niece (not to talk of younger children) who can now read and write well supposed to interpret “HCD” as “Happy Children’s Day” even though my message is directed at her? Beyond that, some compressed words which are employed in communicating with the intention to save time actually defeat that purpose as they contain almost the same number of alphabets as the original word. For example; the use of “Kk” instead of “Ok” still beats me till this moment because they both have two alphabets! The use of “K” instead of “Ok” hardly suffices too as the difference is just one alphabet!
In the same vein, the substitute version of some words make little or no sense and at best project the writer as disorganized and incautious and at worst a semi-literate. The words in this category include; “Fenks” or “10ks” instead of “Thanks”, “L8er” in place of “Later”, “Grit” (which has an entirely different meaning) for “Greet” and the letter “C” for “See.” It’s even worse when these coined words are used by full grown adults who one would expect to have outgrown the carefree attitude that is almost always synonymous with teenagers and very young adults. These days even official emails and memoranda are not spared from the onslaught of the sms language. Many job seekers have lost the chance to be gainfully employed as a result of the unforgivable sin of using too many abbreviations in place of correctly spelled words in their application. The sad part is that they may be unaware of the reason why they were dropped as potential employees given that they were very qualified for the position advertised, and may continue to make the same mistake over and over again.
The intention of this piece is not to deride the use of abbreviations altogether as they surely come in handy in our daily communication lives. However, a good number of people do not know when to draw the line. An elderly person may consider it rude when a younger person chats with them in sms language. Even I get irritated when someone initiates a chat with “Gm” which is supposed to translate as “Good morning” or when I read sentences like “Ow r u 2dy, r u goin 2 c d man ds 9t?” which literally translates to “How are you today, are you going to see the man this night?” How is one supposed to take anyone that writes like this seriously? The truth is that the overuse of abbreviations portrays a person as unserious and lazy! Lazy writing or texting comes across as juvenile and show a definite lack of effort that may ultimately backfire in an increasingly competitive world.
The prevalent poor written grammar exhibited by students and graduates most especially on social media under the guise of informality and which have inadvertently filtered into our official lives is worrisome and poses a threat to the virtue of the English language. Atrocious spelling mistakes and lack of proper punctuation are consequences of a growing embrace of the use of abbreviations. This situation demands reorientation on the importance of using appropriate words in communication particularly in the light of the current challenges in our education system, as well as for the sake of posterity who must not be allowed to view this mode of communication as the status quo.
The difference between successful people and the average person more often than not is the deliberate effort they put into all they do regardless of how unimportant it may appear to the average person. It’s all in the details!