More on early txtng

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Aug 19 15:21:37 UTC 2010

Belated commentary of the poem Joel Berson posted:

JB noted "I've inserted an * where I cannot decode the message or am uncertain."

my *ID's fill'd with love.  JB offers * ID's = ideas?; I offer hide.
*TP dress = tippy dress (i. e., fashionable) -- this one is for sure.
*AQfortie free == ? AQ is ague, a shivering fit that would accompany a fever, but AQfortie is a stumper.  "Aguefortie" and aguefortis" are not in the OED; Aquafortis is nitric acid -- is there some sort of feeble joke here? -- "strong shakes"? -- not that I accuse whoever wrote this of joking feebly.

Also: for the first few years of the 20th C, the U. S. post office required that the verso of a picture postcard carry only the address.  The picture side, therefore, had a very narrow white strip at the bottom or side for the message.  This is why the traditional postcard message was "Having wonderful time wish you were here."  But it might be a place to look for txting.  I have several boxes of early postcards, which I have hardly looked at for 30 years.  If I ever do look at them again, I'll let you know.  (I believe that the post office allowed space for a message on the verso in 1905)


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010 10:54 am
Subject: More on early txtng

> 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."
> pieces)
> 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.)
> LH
> 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 = ?
> >
> >Joel
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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