Letter 2 my father; I did this 4 me; u can't c me <- what is the name of this phenomenon? chatspeak textspeak

Hello,
In written English, mostly in informal registers, you can sometimes come across these, say, abbrevations which make use of the specific pronunciation of some words. And thus, instead of saying 'two,' one cay replace with the number '2.' Instead of using the preposition 'for,' one might use the number '4.'
Interestingly enough, it's also verbs that might be replaced by means of this technique. For example, the letter 'c' instead of the whole verb 'see.'
Does anyone know the technical term for this language phenomenon?
Thank you in advance for any possible answers,
majlo :)
 
  • katie_here

    Senior Member
    England/English
    Textspeak. I've often wondered though, if non-english speakers will read them in English and not their own language.

    2day dvaday? (today) l8r losamr? (later)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's what we refer to in the forum rules as chatspeak.

    It is used a great deal in chatrooms and in SMS text messages.
    (SMS = Short Message Service - the text message facility on mobile phones/ cell phones.)
    It can be typed very quickly by those who have no keyboard experience, and for SMS text messages it saves character space (that was very important in the early days of phone text messaging.

    We do not allow use of this form in WordReference, but we do allow it to be discussed :)
     

    DarkenedAngel

    New Member
    English - Australian
    Non-English readers can get rather confused by them. It's normally only used in chatrooms and for text messaging on phones and things like that. It really shouldn't be used in regular written English, but all too often is now days. I can give you a link to a list of most of the abbreviations that are in standard use if you want them.
     
    DarkenedAngel, I would appreciate it. :)

    Thank you for your replies. :)

    However, I believe there is further discussion to be made on the subject. The reason I asked this question is because I once had seen this technical term in a review of Tupac Shakur's poetry volume which abounds in such textspeaks. Even though I've forgotten what exactly was the name the author of the review used, I'm pretty much sure it wasn't textspeak, nor chatspeak which are essentially associated with Internet forums. If the context of my question was poetry/linguistics, would you have thought of any other terms?
     

    DarkenedAngel

    New Member
    English - Australian
    DarkenedAngel, I would appreciate it. :)

    Thank you for your replies. :)

    However, I believe there is further discussion to be made on the subject. The reason I asked this question is because I once had seen this technical term in a review of Tupac Shakur's poetry volume which abounds in such textspeaks. Even though I've forgotten what exactly was the name the author of the review used, I'm pretty much sure it wasn't textspeak, nor chatspeak which are essentially associated with Internet forums. If the context of my question was poetry/linguistics, would you have thought of any other terms?
    I'll have to message you the link because I'm not allowed to post it here yet apparently.

    The only other terms I've ever heard for it are net speak, net lingo, or text lingo. Otherwise, it's just an abbreviation or acronym.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Do you want the name of the phenomenon in which the letter or number when spoken is a (nearly) homophonic pun on the intended meaning? As in:

    A B C D goldfish (= Abey, see de [the] goldfish.)

    I can't think of a word for it, either, though it seems there should be one. Here is a discussion of the same question at another forum. They seem not to have found an answer either.

    I hope some linguist will see this and tell us the term.
     
    Last edited:

    DarkenedAngel

    New Member
    English - Australian
    Do you want the name of the phenomenon in which the letter or number when spoken is a (nearly) homophonic pun on the intended meaning? As in:

    A B C D goldfish (= Abey, see de [the] goldfish.

    I can't think of a word for it, either, though it seems there should be one. Here is a discussion of the same question at another forum. They seem not to have found an answer either.

    I hope some linguist will see this and tell us the term.
    S A R, C D B D Is! (es [yes] ay [they] are, see de [the] beady eyes)

    An "idiom" is the closest word in English to describe it that I can think of. An idiom is a peculiarity to any language. The fact that we can use letter and numeral names to replace words due to similar sounding, is an idiomatic aspect of English.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    When we talk about this in the A-level exam I teach we call it alphanumeric spelling .. since it relies on the sound qualities of the alphabet and the numbers ...

    but I'm not sure that this a widely used term.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    We use it in text messages, but it predates text messaging. I remember years ago following a car with a personalized license plate that read "CAN8IV" and finally deducing that this meant "California native." And don't rebuses use this approach, with numbers and pictures to spell out completely different words? And I even remember years ago something called "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut" that told the entire story of Little Red Riding Hood" using sound-alike words. It's probably on the web somewhere today!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For Ladle Rat Rotten Hut and other similarly hilarious tales, look up Anguish Languish.
    I recommend This Site
    That is not, however, the topic of the thread.

    I had rebuses in my head but I had forgotten the word.
    It's not quite right though, it is?
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I think of "2day" and "c u later" as just cases of replacing one English word by a sound-alike word in general though (assuming that we may regard "2" and "c" as being "words" which is kind of arguable in itself.). This happens to be convenient for abbreviations sometimes but can be used for other purposes.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I had rebuses in my head but I had forgotten the word.
    It's not quite right though, it is?
    It does seem close; these symbols are used in rebuses, and you read them by saying their names, as you do the pictures.

    It would be nice to find a word that distinguishes the use of pictographs from the use of letters and numbers.

    Alphanumeric also seems close, but it is used also to describe "id10t" for "idiot", so doesn't quite pick out the homophony that is in play in this particular form.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I found it! When we replace words with letters and numerals it creates a coded language called Leet, apparently.
    Sorry, that's not right.
    L33ts p34k is a particular form of written language in which alternative symbols are used that, to l33t speakers, look like the letters they replace.

    Chatspeak is very different. The alternative symbols sound like the letters, indeed syllables, they replace.
     
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