Once upon a time, at the dawn of text messaging, a simple C U L8R was the height of slang sophistication.
Today, with texting the most popular way for young people to stay in touch in the UK and instant messaging at our fingertips, a whole new creative language has evolved.
To navigate text slang you’ll need to know your acronyms from your emoticons, but also some of the latest vernacular.
If you’re still getting to grips with the complexities of LOL and moss is nothing more than an herbaceous plant to you, it could be time to take a crash course in code breaking for the newest text generation.
More than just words
Instant messaging is continually changing and branching out into new formats.
Take the rise of Snapchat (iOS, Android), a hugely popular app that lets you take photos and videos, add captions and send to friends.
Once opened, messages will self-destruct after a few seconds to avoid long-term embarrassment, unless someone takes a screen shot of course.
Over 200 million Snap Chat messages are sent every day, that’s five times more pictures than are posted on Instagram.
The emoji craze has gone so far that you can pick up a translation of Moby Dick made entirely out of these cute little Japanese pictoral icons.
When used alongside actual words, emojis are fairly easy to understand - a shamrock for good luck here, a beer for a drink there –but, when used to make up entire sentences, you’re faced with a set of very modern hieroglyphics.
Check out emojitracker to see the most popular emojis being used on Twitter in real-time.
Find a reference tool
If you’re wondering why someone just texted you the numbers 143, don’t panic; there are tools at hand to help you decipher it.
Visit Netlingo.com for a comprehensive list of text message terms or the Chat Slang Dictionary, which also offers a free iPhone app and a handy condensed list of terms for parents.
You’ll be pleased to know that 143 means ‘I love you’ in text speak. Watch out for 182 though; it means the opposite.
Learn the basics
To get started translating text slang, here is a selection of fourteen of the most common phrases and emoticons currently in circulation.
Props – Why waste time conveying your respect with a full sentence, when ‘props’, meaning ‘proper respect due’, will do the job just as effectively.
:->- This means ‘sarcastic’. Of course.
Dench– Meaning ‘good’. Perhaps this term derives from the consistently solid acting work of Dame Judy. See also Peng.
HBU – This is short for ‘How about you’? Use it to ask someone’s opinion or find out what they are doing.
IDC – Parents might see this one a lot. It simply means ‘I don’t care’. Why not reply using the next one on the list.
Wuh – Whatever.
l-O -This one means ‘yawning’. If you see this you might want to step up your text chat.
WEG – This stands for ‘Wicked evil grin’. Use it when you say something a bit rude and are fully aware/proud of it.
:-X – To some this might resemble a person with duct tape over their mouth, but really it means ‘big wet kiss’.
JK –This means ‘just kidding’, but it’s still no substitute for saying you’re sorry.
ORLY – ‘Oh really’? Yes, really.
SMH– Stands for ‘shaking my head’ and can mean disagreement or ‘I can’t believe what you are saying’.
POS - Another one for the parents out there. It stands for ‘parents over shoulder’. Young folk use it to say they can’t, ahem, talk right now.
Moss – As touched upon earlier, this means to relax, or chill out. Obvs.
Test Your Skills
Put your newfound text slang knowledge into action and see if you can translate these phrases: