Thursday 19 August 2010

Texts and texting

I don't consider myself a Luddite – I'm blogging, aren't I? I have a mobile (cell) phone but am not soldered to it. I use take it with me when I go out shopping – a rare event in itself since I prefer to shop through the internet am bone idle and don't go out unless I cannot avoid it. It also comes along with me (on its little legs, trotting by my side – no, that's silly!) when I take the dogs out on my own.
How can I be on my own when the dogs are with me? Well, what I mean is that I'm the only human when we go out. (My neighbours would be interested in that and possibly quite offended.) I have always been a muddled thinker and even more puzzling speaker, which made teaching interesting and probably incomprehensible to my pupils. I mean, I use more words than necessary, unless it's first thing in the morning when I am either mute or aggressively monosyllabic.
What I really mean is that Barry is not with me. Well, he is, but he doesn't always go walking with me. Now, I could have expressed that much more succinctly I'm sure and it's not that I like the sound of my own voice, you appreciate – actually, my voice doesn't sound as though it belongs to me when I hear a recording of it. The voice in my head – just one, if you're wondering – sounds quite pleasant, normal, friendly, not the clipped, precise, horsey one that everyone else apparently hears. Add the pedantic element and you'll understand why I am such an appalling conversationalist and have learned to cover this by becoming an excellent listener, whom no-one ever remembers (sob, sob) because I only ask questions and nod to encourage others to continue speaking so that I don't have to. I can kill jokes, effect awkward silences, change the tenor of a conversation from light-hearted and gay (I do wish we could still use that adjective with its original meaning) to sombre, serious or embarrassed with one comment.
I also have a tendency to go off at a tangent. Oh, you hadn't noticed that trait? Anyway, I take my mobile phone with me when I go anywhere without Barry. Actually, it's Barry's old, old phone – it's simple and works in his car so that we can be 'hands free'. I don't want one that gives me the latest Stock Market figures, or tells me the time in the Arctic, or brings me up to date on the latest celebrity news. I don't need to know the football scores – EVER – or the weather in the Atlantic or the nearest supermarket/hotel/petrol station. Emails can wait until I can access them on my laptop and I'm perfectly happy with the photographs my camera takes. In short, (at last, you sigh!) all I require is a device with which I can make and receive calls and occasionally create a text message.
I don't send text messages very often so I don't use intuitive text, nor do I use abbreviated text, though I can. To wit:- 2 Ys U R, 2 Ys U B, I C U R 2 Ys 4 me. I can't see an occasion when I would ever text something like, 'C U l8r m8', mainly because I haven't any m8s. There are some acronyms that I use – AWOL, ASAP, LOL and of course, OK. I have just – today – discovered a site called 'Text speak made easy'. Some of the contractions are familiar – IMHO, BTW, BRB, AFAIK – but others were quite unknown – DIKU, KISS, OOTO.
Coventry University published research in 2006 that suggested that text messaging might improve young children's spelling skills. I can't see how, but I didn't carry out the study. Following that the Scottish Qualifications Authority said that text speech answers would be acceptable in English papers so long as it was clear that the students showed understanding of the subject. How long will it be before Shakespeare's work is published in text message form?
'2b or nt 2b, tht is t ?'
Critics suggested that examiners might not be au fait with street slang. I think it's highly probable that they wouldn't be! I don't know the current situation concerning examinations.
To my increasing annoyance, texting is creeping into everyday communications between service providers and the public. Thus, when one of the domestic machines (not me, one of the electrical goods) went wrong we were told that a text message would be sent to inform of the estimated arrival of the mechanic. That's no good to me – I can hardly remember where I left the wretched thing and certainly am not in the habit of checking it every few minutes. It does bleep when a message arrives but if I'm not in the same room as it then I don't hear it. Last week I attempted to carry out some online banking. The account is an e.account and can only be accessed online. The bank was bought by another bank a few years ago and the final adjustments were being made. To this end I received a new bank card and went online to transfer remaining funds and close the account. I was informed that a text message would be sent to 'welcome' me and that any transactions would be authorised by text. Grrrr! I dialled the number I had been texted – a deafening silence greeted me. I must try again this week when I'm feeling calmer. There are no alternatives. If I go into a branch of the bank no-one there will be able to help, because it's an e.account.

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