Fwd: ADS-L access problem (was: Re: early texting?)

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Sun Apr 19 11:11:18 UTC 2009

Posting this for Larry Horne.

Begin forwarded message:

> This is a great find, Joel.  It's exactly what I was looking for
> when I posted the following back in 2002 on the craze for
> "cabalistic" readings and "laconics" as reported in Allen Walker
> Read's essays, as some of you may recall.  But it would still be
> nice to antedate the alphanumeric example in the 1832 poem, "B4".
> (Ben Zimmer suggests looking at David Crystal's _txting_ for such
> examples, which I haven't done.)
> LH
> ===========
> Date:         Fri, 28 Jun 2002 12:24:56 -0400
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      An initial 4A?
> In reading Allen Walker Read's wonderful round-up at the OK corral
> (Chapters 10-15 of PADS [Publications of the American Dialect Society]
> 86, hot off the press)--great infirmary reading, as I thought--it
> occurred to me
> that his descriptions of the "craze" among newspapers in Boston, New
> York,
> New Orleans, and the"transmontane" press (as the area between the
> Alleghenies
> and Rockies was known) in the late 1830's and early 1840's for
> abbreviations and
> other "laconics" (see the quote from the Ninewah Gazette of Peru, IL
> on p. 140) very closely prefigures traits of the current texting
> (txting) language popularized through SMS (short message service,
> involving the video display space on cell phones now commonly used in
> Europe and East Asia and perhaps making inroads in the US, to the
> horror of English teachers and other purists).  I recall hearing a
> couple of papers on some of the truncations and initialisms involved,
> and checked the web, and my sense is that while this trend began with
> e-mail messages (ROTFL and its ilk)--or even earlier in service lingo
> (FUBAR, SNAFU)--and was accelerated by habits of AIM [AOL instant
> messaging] users (including my undergraduates, it appears, and not
> just my teenage kids) it's really picked up with the constraints
> imposed by the tiny message space available for txt.  (They don't
> call it SMS for 0.)
> The AWR data involves "cabalistic" readings (as critics complained at
> the time), in that the functions of laconics were not just to save
> space but to create and ratify an in-group and confuse outsiders (who
> often expressed their irritation with just this fact).  These factors
> led to the use of intentionally misrepresented or pseudo-illiterate
> initialisms, e.g. K.Y. 'no use', K.G. 'no go', O.W. 'oll wright', and
> of course O.K. itself 'oll korrect'.  The appearance of "the three
> R's" (for reading, 'ritin, and 'rithmetic) stems from this period.  A
> lot of the true initialisms also involved some cabalistic
> knowledge--O.F.M. 'our first men', and so on.  (Not to mention nonce
> initialisms, including those appearing in print with glosses
> attached.)  And then there are the intermediate cases--N.S. for 'nuff
> said', ODV 'eau de vie' (later reinterpreted as 'oll done vith', for
> when your glass is empty).  There are also other truncations/laconics
> that don't involve initialisms as such, e.g. XLNC 'excellency'.  From
> a poem reprinted in 1832, "To Miss Catherine Jay, of Utica":
> Oh KTJ is far B4
> All other maids IC;
> Her XLNC I adore
> As a lovely NTT.
> And then of course there are the waggish unpackings of initialisms,
> as in our own backronyms (FORD = 'found on road dead', PH.D. 'piled
> higher and deeper), including the degrees explicated in 1831:
> "A.B.--Apt to Blunder", "LL.D.--Licensed to Die Damnably",
> "M.D.--Maker of Dead men").
> But what struck me in reading this are the parallels (and to some
> degree non-parallels) with our own (or our own children's) use of
> laconics in AIM/SMS lingo.  Some examples, off the cuff, of what one
> site cleverly describes as "Gen-TXT" usage, but as is also noted
> elsewhere, has now extended to the business world, electronic
> crawls,communications at airports, police communications, etc.:
> RU 'are you'
> OIC 'Oh, I see'
> BBL 'be back later'
> NE
> INO 'I know'
> --RUOK?  'are you OK?'
> --Y NY?    'yes, and you?"
> Note the use of "inaccurate" initialisms, reinventing the practice of
> the 1830's, and the mixture of initialisms, near-initialisms, and
> simple truncations, often involving vowel deletion; cf. the 1832
> poet's XLNC vs. the modern XLNT, or the relation of our kids' INO,
> OIC, etc. and our great(N)-grandparents' uses as detailed by AWR.
> One interesting difference is in the alphanumeric mixing of today--
> F2T?  'free to talk'
> B4N
> W84ME 'wait for me'
> NE1
> 3SUM
> J4F 'just for fun'
> --which is almost unparalleled in the citations from c. 1840 that I
> reviewed.  Almost, because of that one use of "B4" in the KTJ poem
> above.  Nor are there any proto-emoticons as far as I can tell.  Of
> course if I were going to do this seriously, I'd have to track down
> AWR's sources and look for myself.  (Or at least do an MoA database
> search on "B4" and other likely suspects, whatever they might be.)
> So, do any listees know of work anticipating what I've been burbling
> on about, connecting the c. 1840 fad/vogue/craze of initialisms with
> the more modern trends of c. 2000?  Don't want to step on NE1's
> scholarly
> toes here.
> =====================================
> 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
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