More on early txtng

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Aug 19 18:08:57 UTC 2010

At 2:02 PM -0400 8/19/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>Do we know the earliest examples the British Library has found?  If
>its merely 1867 --
>There will be examples of the linguistic games people played, and a
>poem from Gleanings From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, published
>in 1867. In it, 130 years before the arrival of mobile phone texting,
>Charles C Bombaugh uses phrases such as "I wrote 2 U B 4". Another
>verse reads: "He says he loves U 2 X S,/ U R virtuous and Y's,/ In X
>L N C U X L/ All others in his i's."
>then someone should inform them that this "emblematic poetry" arose
>in America, by 1813 ... I'll try, but I have to wait until my
>registration to post is confirmed. Larry, what is the date of your KTJ poem?

Sorry, it's 1832, "To Miss Catherine Jay, of Utica"


>At 8/19/2010 10:48 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>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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