When lol means laugh out loud

Some friends were rather pleased to receive a hand written letter this week; yes, a hand written letter!

They were both amazed and excited, and I have to say I understand their feelings. I cannot remember the last time I had the fun of trying to decipher the scrawl of another human being.

Most communications these days are either computer generated being sent by email or text. The language and writing style in these new forms of dialogue are often completely different than the more traditional style.

Mrs Molineaux’s youngest, who is fully versed in this new condensed messaging system, got me thinking the other day. She was sending a message via her mobile phone and asked ‘How do you spell………?’

Herein lies the problem; she wanted to know how to express the noise you make when you are offering sympathy or emotional agreement. The sound that phonetically sounds like the word ‘or’ but with more of an ‘a’ sound in it.

She tried Ah but that can sound like an expression of surprise. Her sisters joined the conversation and offered Argh then realised that it sounded like what you would shout if you had trapped your finger in a draw. Apparently the inclusion of the letter ‘g’ makes it a harder sound.

The eventually settle on Aaaaaaah which, to my mind, still has the potential to lead to confusion.

Such is the world of the mobile phone conversation. Even though they have the facility for what is known as predictive text (it guesses the word you want as you start to enter the first few letters), we still feel the need to shorten words and phrases.

Using the number 4 instead of taking hours typing the three letters FOR is a favourite. Time is of the essence it seems because it is not unusual to receive a message containing ‘NE’ as a replacement for ‘ANY’. It hardly seems worth the effort. Daughter number three answered one of my messages with a simple Gr8 to let me know that my suggestion was, in fact, GREAT. Marvellous!

Some of this is a generational thing and I can see a difference in the way I type these quick messages compared with my daughters. This said, my mother, who is in her seventies types text messages in a different way than my generation. She still insists on including correct punctuation; something that must take her a long time to do.

The whole thing is set to cause generational confusion I am sure. A male colleague recently sent me a joke via my mobile phone and ended the text with ‘lol’.

I was surprised if not a little scared because had always understood this to mean lots of love. I mean, I appreciated his friendship but I wasn’t ready for such shows of emotion.

When I asked him about his greeting he informed me that the youth of today have now redesignated lol to mean Laugh Out Loud.


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