The Disadvantages of the SMS Language

Written by margaret kay
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The Disadvantages of the SMS Language
The SMS language can make text messaging easier. (cell phone image by sonya etchison from

The SMS (Short Message Service) language is comprised of shortened phrases, acronyms and abbreviations that emerged from text messaging but has since bled into the everyday vernacular of many modern societies. SMS language is useful in text messaging, as it shortens messages' character count, therefore saving time and expense. However, the use of this slang-based language is not without its disadvantages.

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Confuses Non-Users

Speaking or writing with SMS words can confuse those who are not familiar with the language. Many people within older generations, who do not use text messaging very often, may not understand a message if it contains SMS language, particularly acronyms. For example, someone who does not understand SMS language may receive a message with the acronym "ROTFL" which means "Rolling on the floor laughing" and wouldn't know that the message sender thought the subject matter was funny.

Gives Negative Impression

Using the SMS language outside of text messaging, in speech and e-mails, can give the recipient a negative impression of the messenger. When a word from the SMS language is used in an inappropriate situation, such as a business e-mail, it can seem unprofessional or simply be misinterpreted as a spelling error. For example, the SMS word "ppl" stands for "people" and could easily be confused as a spelling mistake by those who are not knowledgeable of SMS abbreviations. Furthermore, using SMS words instead of their English-language counterparts can convey to the recipients that the messenger is lazy and could not be bothered to complete the longer version of the word.

Deteriorates the English Language

The spread of the SMS language has been criticised for deteriorating the English language and its rich history. Though languages continually evolve, the SMS language can be seen as not respecting the long-standing properties of the English language that has made it so strong. Furthermore, words within the SMS language that are very similar to their English-language counterparts can be confused by young users as the actual English spelling and can therefore increase the prevalence of spelling mistakes.

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