I am sure that I am treading on eggshells here as this is a matter of opinion, but please do read on.

I absolutely resent when people use incorrect spelling for 90% of their words, on purpose. My younger sister, who is a teenager now, has been dragged into this strange world of "text spelling" / "short spelling" or whatever it is.

This is just one of her written sentences:

i do agree wid dis..coz evn i hav xperienced !! u will defnetly c d change

It is probably acceptable when you're typing on your phone where it is inconvenient or if you're typing to save the words (texting) but she does this pretty much everywhere and I'd like her to get back to using her regular language.

When I had a quick chat about this with her, she thinks that it's "cool" to write like that, and that google+ / facebook is not an exam so she doesn't have to stick to a format of writing. I didn't want to argue about it because if I do, it would only worsen the situation and she'd probably avoid it when I'm around. Probably.

I think that this way of speaking could seriously harm your real language skills (English is not our first language, but we literally use it everywhere) I have friends who've gone on from, "it's only messenger!" to, "Oh snap, I just mailed my potential employer with my chat language" (I am not even making that up)

Instead of just telling her what to do, I'd like her to understand why she should avoid writing like that. How can I get her to stop writing this way?

ps: I tried looking up but no one seems to have an opinion on this matter.. may be I am taking it too seriously?!

  • 6
    I had a similar experience with my mother, who believed that punctuation is completely optional in informal mediums. I am a web developer; she needed a website. I told her I'll build her a website (for free) only if she starts using punctuation correctly on Facebook (which she often uses to promote her business). Since I laid out my terms she's started using punctuation properly and will be getting her free website soon. Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 21:52
  • Any competent teacher is going to put a big "F" on any homework handed in using chat gibberish. You are not taking this too seriously. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 13:12
  • @AndrewMattson: Not necessarily, I had a series of group projects in university, where one of my group mates had his section of the code comments (a graded and required field in this course) in "chat gibberish". We still got an A, on at least one assignment. (Other assignments had other issues, reflecting in a lower grade, but we were never docked points for our comments). As a CS major, I would say that "chat gibberish" is a valid language, so long as the INTENDED recipient can understand what is being said.
    – sharur
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 22:07
  • That ridiculous text shorthand trash is a phase almost positively. I'm sure that's not the only variety of pop culture she's absorbed into her world. Eventually it will get old and she may move on but it might take a slip up to realize the lunacy she's emitting. Like those clowns walking around saying hashtag before everything. It will end, and it will make you cringe while it's happening, but eventually everyone drops the cliche trends when they realize how much they no longer care to keep it all up.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 1:01

6 Answers 6


I'll start off by saying that there is a time and place for text shortcuts like the ones you described. Where, exactly, the time and place for those shortcuts are is subject to debate.

In my opinion, the appropriate time and place for this is either in real-time chat, where taking the time to ensure proper spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) can disrupt the "flow" of the conversation(s), when using a restrictive input device (such as a cell phone keyboard, or a virtual keyboard accessed by mouse or other movement controller), or when there is a restriction on the number of characters that can be entered (such as Twitter.com or the comment system here).

I've encountered plenty of people, though, who feel that there's absolutely nothing wrong with using shortcuts like this on any "informal" typed medium.

Personally, I despise seeing stuff like this on forums, emails, or even social media. I think it is lazy and disrespectful of your audience, unless you are very familiar with the audience and know that they won't mind. But that's just me; many other people are more tolerant of this, and I feel like the proportion who don't mind such a style increases daily.

Now, to get to your question: what can you do about it? Unfortunately, as a sibling, there probably is very little you can do.

As Valkyrie mentioned, proofreading is your sister's friend. You can remind her to double- or triple-check any homework assignment, resume, or other formal document you know she may be working on.

Ultimately, the primary responsibility for your sister knowing how to write appropriately lies with her teachers, and herself. If she's doing her homework assignments, hopefully either she's not using shortcuts like this, or her teachers are marking her down. If neither of these are the case, you may want to ask your parents if they'd consider bringing this to the Parent Teacher Association, or other valid forum, since teachers absolutely should be enforcing proper English on assignments.

The only other thing I think that is really an option for you is ignoring anything she writes using shortcuts. That most definitely includes emails, text messages, or other communications directed at you. Just explain to her that you find it hard to read that style of writing, and ask that out of courtesy, you'd like her to use normal English in anything directed at you, so you don't have to struggle to figure out what she means.

Then if she texts you with "if u c ne $ in d car plz brng it 2 me", you can ignore it, and she doesn't get what she wants.

  • 6
    +1 for ignoring anything she writes using shortcuts. I agree that using shortcuts in general correspondence is rude. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 16:07
  • 1
    Great use of "natural consequences." Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 16:11
  • 1
    @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun - I disagree. Ignoring someone (especially a girl) is not the right way to send a message across. It's the most obvious way men send messages across - when something doesn't work men either ignore it or repair it. However, women are not men. Ignoring women sends the message I don't care about you, not the message I don't like the way you write. If you want to send a message then be direct. Be clear. Ignoring a person is just too vague. Read my answer for more details: parenting.stackexchange.com/a/7473/3917 Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 10:46
  • @AaditMShah you make a great point, but if the ignoring has been prefaced with a conversation stating, "I don't understand them" or, "I don't have time to translate" it isn't really the same thing as just pure ignoring. programming a pre-done text response like, "try again in English Please." would do the same thing Beofett is suggesting, without that total "ignoring" feel to it. Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 15:29
  • I think you're better off not ignoring them, but instead replying with something like "excuse me, what do you mean?" which you could even make a template (most mobile / smart phones have that option).
    – SQB
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 10:37

Have you considered that it is a part of her world, and the fact it annoys you probably makes it even more appealing to her.

I don't like it, but it is catching on with that age group.

The thing to remember is that language continually evolves- and that evolution is driven by younger generations. While we may not like it, the problem may be at our end. Perhaps the correct response is to just accept that she wants to use text speak.

  • Thank you. This is a good answer too, I wish I could select two answers.
    – iamserious
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 18:02

From experience I can tell you being a sister is different than being a parent. If you are worried about how others see her, have an honest, calm conversation explaining about how others see her is important. She can CHOOSE to listen or not (parent vs. sister). This short conversation lets her know you care about her but still respect her decisions.

You also need to set boundaries for the way you will allow her to treat you. If you don't like the texts, don't respond until she treats YOU with the respect you deserve and texts you like an adult. It doesn't have to be confrontational, just say something like "I couldn't read it so I didn't respond." or "I don't have time to translate each text you send".

It is a parents job to take everything too seriously, a sibling with the same attitude is RARELY taken in the same context.

  • Thank you very much; this is similar to the top answer right now but I do get the idea!
    – iamserious
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 17:49

You're taking this too seriously. I work in the tech industry and see new graduates come through who use l33tspeak personally but have no trouble using professional language in a professional setting. Certainly she's not using l33tspeak in her school work and papers, right?

As she progresses in her schooling and then career, it's very likely she'll be able to easily switch between 'regular' English and l33tspeak. Sure, there might be the occasional screw-up, but that can happen at any time, with any language, just by a second of inattention.

Anecdata: I use l33tspeak regularly in my personal communications, and never in my professional work (not even in the code). Never a screw-up; proofreading is your friend.


Is chatspeak acceptable? Sure, it can be. Is it wise to use? Almost definitely not.

Here is why.

Language isn't just how we communicate, it's how we think. Imagine a chef who can only describe food as "gross" or "awesome." The chef won't just be poorly respected in communication, he is going to be held back at a level of mediocrity because he lacks the vocabulary to even think about what makes a particular dish desirable.

If you lack the ability to communicate with precision, you lose access to all types of thinking that require it.

I understand the sentiment that it's just informal communication and isn't that important, but I think the point is still valid. Are you able to make a cogent and compelling argument in written form, or do you end every disagreement with o wel thatz jus my opinion? Is your command of language sufficient to warrant peoples' respect of you? Are you able to tell what types of words have rhetorical effects? Advertisers depend on the idea that you can't.

Finally, the main justification for it is that it's arguably easier to type, but this isn't a valid reason. Typing has been here and will be here for a long time and it's a skill that everyone needs to possess. With practice, you should be able to type about as quickly as you can think.

The good news is that she'll hopefully grow out of it, but the sooner the better.

If I had any advice for what you can actually do about it, just write to her more often, and ask her things that require depth of thought. Prompt her to communicate with you on a level that can't be fully expressed without precision. It's a very non-confrontational way of encouraging to pursue thoughtful writing.

  • 3
    I like the subversive approach (last paragraph) of putting her in a situation where her shortcuts don't work :-) Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 7:13

I think the only way it'll change is if enough people start making comments to her about it that she gets tired of hearing it. I feel it's just a trend, and unfortunately a popular one cause it drives me crazy too. Does she do her school work like this as well? Or is it just social media? If it's just social media I wouldn't be too overly concerned, but if she's using chat language in other places, like I said, hopefully it'll generate enough attention that she'll revert back to typing in English. I think it'll pass. When some of my facebook memories come up I'm mortified about some of the idiotic sounding posts that my fingers produced. Some day I'd love to have my daughter look back on some of her conversations with friends, I guarantee she'll be shaking her head at them.

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