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Sep 20, 2010
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with Anu Garg

If you are a high school teacher of the English language, or if you are simply someone who cares about the language, chances are textspeak -- use of cutesy abbreviations often seen in cell phone messages -- grates on your nerves.

You especially don't want to see it in a formal setting, for example in a term paper or in a doctor's report. Imagine if your cardiologist emailed you the results of your test with the note: "C me 4 UR <3." Chances are you'd want to fire him for this cordial (from Latin cor: heart) note, no matter how good he may be in fixing problems of the heart.

But is there really anything wrong with people using expressions such as "C U L8R" in a friendly email or text message? We may want to blame this on cell phones, but according to an upcoming British Library exhibit (see 1, 2), Victorian poets were writing in this manner long before anyone dreamed of mobile devices.

And let's not forget that the use of letters to represent words is sometimes used in formal contexts as well. "IOU" for "I Owe You" has been used on promissory notes going back to the 17th century.

Abbreviations are not bad and there is nothing wrong with acronyms. Shortening a message for a telegraph was perfectly legal, so why take it out on SMS?

If you happen to have one of those names that can be conveyed by the sounds of letters you may have figured out early on that you could sign off as LN (Ellen), ME (Emmy), KC (Casey), J (Jay), LX (Alex), KT (Katie), or K8 (Kate), to pick a few.

This week we have picked five letter-words, words that you can write like K-9 for canine.

emanate or M-N-8


verb tr., intr.: To emit or to come out.

From Latin emanare (to flow out), from ex- (out of) + manare (to flow).

"The head of the Vatican Museum has warned that dust and pollution from tourists visiting the Sistine Chapel could endanger its priceless artworks. 'Such a crowd... emanates sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust,' he said."
Vatican Tourists 'Ruining Sistine Chapel'; The Independent (London, UK); Sep 10, 2010.

See more usage examples of emanate in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. -Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist (1911-2004)

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