More on early txtng

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 19 14:48:46 UTC 2010

You'll recall Joel's posting below, or some of you possibly mine from
2002 mentioning this poem (cited by A. W. Read in one of his "O.K."

Oh KTJ is far B4
All other maids IC;
Her XLNC I adore
As a lovely NTT.

Well, this phenomenon has now been (re)discovered in England:
(Ben Zimmer suggested looking at David Crystal's _txting: the gr8
db8_ (OUP, 2008) for more on the history, which I haven't done, and
which is also unmentioned in the Guardian piece.)


At 11:51 AM -0400 4/18/09, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>While looking for "P's and Q's", I came across the following early
>example of texting.  I doubt not that there are other examples,
>perhaps back to Roman times; but I was amused.  I've inserted an *
>where I cannot decode the message or am uncertain.
>Earliest in Olio [NY, NY], published as The Olio; Date: 05-22-1813;
>Volume: I; Issue: 17; Page: 136, but I take it from the
>better-printed American Advocate [Hallowell, Maine]; Date:
>12-17-1814; Volume: V; Issue: 48; Page: [4]:
>Ingenious Conceit.
>COME listen to my DT, all those that lovers B;
>Attune your hearts to PT, and read my LEG.
>A bachelor of AT, my brains are racked with KR;
>Of love you'll find the data, if you give serious ER.
>When twenty summers I had CN, with Kate in love I fell;
>A CT wench with black I's keen my EZ heart did sell.
>For ten long years I courted her, 'twas KT DR & DRE;
>And when she frown'd my heart it bump'd, my eyes grew wet and TRE.
>I never once had kiss'd the maid, she was so sly and coy;
>Nor never grasped her RM nor waist, to snatch the blissful joy.
>One day, without much KR or form, my *ID's fill'd with love,
>I slipped into her room and saw what made *H passion move.
>A favorite beau in *TP dress was kissing her quite free;
>To love her after this, says I, a great fool I must B.
>To XMN then her love I tried, and found it all a whim;
>To hate her then, I tried my best, and not to NV him.
>Her FIG in paper cut, I tore and threw away,
>Resolv'd some way to find a QR, at least make one SA.
>Of absence then the FIKC I tried, but all in vain;
>My MT head, and too full heart, felt hard the aching pain.
>My throbbing heart, would not be EZ, to see her scoff and GR;
>Till DZ I did get myself with drinking punch & BR.
>>From love's fever and *AQfortie free, since I've ever BN,
>Nor am I plagu'd with curs'd relapse, for which I sing TDM.
>Should NE one wish love to shun, 'tis plain as ABC,
>That he must mind his Ps and Qs, or he's fix'd to a T.
>Then live a jolly bachelor, let Cupid sing to thee,
>"YYs UR, YYs UR, I C U R YYs for me."
>* ID's = ideas?
>*H = each?
>*TP = ?
>*AQfortie = ?
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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