GR8T

A colleague I don’t know very well just sent me an email that says, “GR8T.” I Googled it and I’m guessing it is supposed to mean “great.” I’m now kind of scared of the colleague in question.

Is it wrong of me to be annoyed with this style of writing? It took me forever to get the students to write emails in a correct professional format, with a formal greeting and signature, and now this?

In case you are wondering, the colleague is at least my age and probably older.

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15 comments on “GR8T

      • Yes, verily. I’m kind of hostile to being referred to in a casual way as “gal” by those I don’t know. It doesn’t just signal overfamiliarity, but also that the addressor has an ideology they are comfortable with — one that gives them the illusion that they already know me, when there is very little about me that is immediately knowable. So, if male, I answer them back as “gal” or perhaps “boi” (this second word the don’t understand, since lacking in a sense of irony).

    • My first thought was that she was referring to the G-8. I guess some of us are more politicized than others.

      The scary thing is that I have volunteered to organize a social event with this person and now I’m having second thoughts.

  1. Sadly, this is the road to illiteracy mapped out by twitter and tweet. By mid-century, Americans will be unable to read and write regular prose. Well, many of them are already in that leaky boat, I guess.

    • People do have less tolerance for long ideas, ideas with nuances, or ideas that don’t snap into lockstep with the norm. They also focus on emotion more, rather than considering that people may also have points of view.

    • In order to read “gr8t” or “gr8″, you have to be able to read and sound out “great” and the numeral “8”, and know they rhyme when spoken. Understood this way, literacy is actually a prerequisite to understanding “gr8″ and “gr8t”. (Compare with abbreviations like “c” for “see”, “u” for “you”, “b” for “be”, etc.)

      As mentioned at the Language Log, linguist David Crystal wrote a book about txting (I know this post is discussing e-mail, by the connection is important). To summarize his main points (from his blog) (emphasis added):

      -Text messages aren’t full of abbreviations – typically less than ten percent of the words use them.
      – These abbreviations aren’t a new language – they’ve been around for decades.
      – They aren’t just used by kids – adults of all ages and institutions are the leading texters these days.
      – Pupils don’t routinely put them into their school-work or examinations.
      – It isn’t a cause of bad spelling: you have to know how to spell before you can text.
      – Texting actually improves your literacy, as it gives you more practice in reading and writing.

      • I agree with you completly and meant to bring this up. David Crystal was a lecturer at my university who I’ve always been insprired by.
        Abbreviated language has been in use for a long time. Think of the truncated forms used in telegraphs. People often used abbreviations in letters. Yr as an abbreviation for your has been in use since the 1770s.

      • Perhaps, on older mobile phones (where you have to press a number repeatedly to get the letter you want) or where there is a character limit.

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