Tag Archives: text message

Best Intextions: That’s Not My Name Edition

More strange and awkward misapprehensions from the world of text messaging. This time we take a look at some common misnomers…

Do you have a friend name Brian? I do. And when I text him my phone makes an ethnic assumption. I type 27426 and it gives me Asian. Well, I guess there  are probably way more Asians in the world than Brians.

If I want to write to or about my friend Andy, before I can get to his name my phone offers me Body. There’s something creepy about it that I’ve never been able to put my finger on. Speaking of body parts, when I check in on my little bro I get arm.

My buddy Robbie tells me that when he tries to write to a girl named Karen, by the time he punches in the “e” his phone assumes he’s writing Lard. Here’s hoping you don’t have a fat friend named Karen.

And nine times out of ten, when I try to write the name Kev it comes out Jew. It’s just a typo, but I got this mad jewy friend named Kevin and it cracks me up every time. Ha. Jew.

Best Intextions: A First Look

Long before Google Suggest and the Google Game your cell phone was trying to read your mind. Predictive Text, or T9, employs algorithms of spelling and common usage to help you skip all the button-pushing of old school 1-for-A, 2-for-B texting by suggesting words as you type. It creates a suggestion hierarchy — most likely candidates are listed first. For instance, hit 4-6-6-3 and your phone will suggest “good” followed by “home,” “gone,” “hood,” and so on.

Developers for the various manufacturers and carriers use different algorithms to predict what you want to say and the order in which words appear. Sometimes the sequence of suggestions makes you wonder what the hell they’re basing their math on.

Here’s a first look at some of the more entertaining and questionable predictive text suggestion progressions in a new series called “Best Intextions.”

Best Intextions: Howl it Know?

#1: Wolf
#2: Woke

Really, what are the chances more people are texting about wolves than about waking up?

Email  your favorite T9 text missteps to UnhappyMediator@gmail.com.

It separates us from the animals — by 160 characters

While we’re on the subject of kids… Dispatch from a 4th grade science class at the elite Ramaz School in New York City.

Teacher: What are some important things we couldn’t do without opposable thumbs?

Student: Texting!

The ortho Jewish school is tentative on the subject of evolution, but surely regardless of how we got these useful digits it was all part of Hashem’s master plan. And God said unto Abraham, “Text me after sundown.”

Related: Chatspeak Shows No Effect on Spelling, May Improve Haikus.

Chatspeak Shows No Effect on Spelling, May Improve Haikus

Child development researchers at the University of Alberta reported last week that using common text and IM abbreviations, or “chatspeak,” does not affect kids’ spelling aptitude. My first reaction to the results was dismay. I wanted proof that today’s youth are getting dumber. Dumber, at least, than the youth of, well, my youth. But upon reflection, and with all due respect to the intentions of the study, I think the premise is fundamentally misaligned.

I’ve maligned the overuse of AOLanguage for years, and its epidemic penetration never ceases to annoy. Although it may well reinforce already established bad habits, digital lingo has very little to do with standard spoken and formal written English. It’s a dialect unto itself. Kids likely don’t think that writing a text and taking a spelling test are in any way related. And really, they aren’t. Sure, children might write “UR” instead of “your,” but make them memorize how to spell “definite” and “maintenance” and they’re going to do it. Similarly, they’ll read To Kill a Mockingbird for class, but on their own it’s all Tiger Beat and Mad Magazine. (Kids still read that stuff, don’t they?)

What’s troubling in the wide view is that people use messenger and text and facebook walls as communicative crutches. Not just the youngins; we grown-ups are just as guilty. Social interactions take places less and less frequently in social settings and more and more often in social networks, and our face-to-face muscles are withering in atrophy. I have come to wonder, for instance, how exactly people go from being friends-of-friends to dating without first connecting on facebook (or at least without a little facebook stalking), which is particularly disturbing given the fact that I’m not on the facebook.

According to the university press release,

[Authors Connie Varnhagen and Nicole Pugh] both agree that the results of their study should ease some concerns and even open up discussion on how this language can be perhaps be embraced within an educational or academic context.

“If you want students to think very precisely and concisely and be able to express themselves, it might be interesting to have them create instant messages with ideas, maybe allow them opportunities to use more of this new dialect in brief reports or fun activities,” said Varnhagen.

Thought-provoking idea, but here’s another one. Instead of encouraging malleable young minds to regard IMs as vehicles for academic thought, perhaps it’d be better to set aside cell phones and 140-character limits and make them practice actually talking to people. Like, with their mouths.