September 27, 2007

Langage SMS

Maybe it was the color scheme in the photograph in Victor Mair's guest post earlier today, but I'm reminded of a novelty mini-ruler I saw while vacationing in France earlier this summer, describing various SMS text message abbreviations in French. (Disclaimer: I don't even text in English, much less in French. I have no idea of the extent to which the shortcuts described on the ruler are used by French SMSers, if any.)

Some of the examples, like bap = "bon après midi" (= "good afternoon"), are simple initialisms (like lol = "laughing out loud"); others, like bcp = "beaucoup" (= "much") are words recoverable without vowels and/or certain consonants (like mbrsd = "embarrassed").

Most interesting (to me) are examples that take advantage of the phonetic similarity between the name of a letter/number and another word or sub-part of a word. For example, a12c4 = "à un de ces quatre" (= "see you later", lit. "until one of these four") features three numbers, two of which correspond to numbers in the phrase being abbreviated (1 = "un", 4 = "quatre"), but the third corresponds to a similar-sounding word (2 = "de", the number being "deux"); it also features two letters, one of which abbreviates a word its name sounds like (c = "ces").

Just thinking of numbers: in English, the pronunciations of 2, 4, and 8 have the highest likelihood of substituting for (parts of) words (e.g., "too"/"to", "for", words in "-ate"); in French, it's 1 and 2 that predominate -- but there's also 9 = "neuf" (= "new"), as in koi29 = "quoi de neuf?" (= "what's new?"), or 6 = "six" (pronounced like "see"), as in GT o 6né = "j'étais au ciné" (= "I was at the movies"), or 5 = "cinq" (pronounced like "sang"), as in C pa 5pa = "c'est pas sympa!" (= "that's not nice!"), or (my favorite) 100 = "cent" in D 100 = "descends!" (= "come down!").

Anyway, click on the pic and check out the other examples on the novelty ruler -- and if you don't know any French, find someone who can explain them to you. They're kinda fun.

[ Comments? ]

Posted by Eric Bakovic at September 27, 2007 07:44 PM