Early texting?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Apr 18 23:35:50 UTC 2009

Joel S. Berson wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Early texting?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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 = ?

I think "TP" = "tippy" = "extremely fashionable".

I think "AQ" probably should  = "ague", but the "fortie" is a mystery to
me, and I think the line may be garbled somehow. (Is the original
printed with long "s" which looks like "f", BTW?)

I wonder how the "YYs"s in the last line are supposed to be read:
"two-Y+s" = "too wise" seems OK, but at least for the first and second
instance "twice-Y+s" = "twice wise" would be at least as good IMHO.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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