Gr8. Victorians txted 2. B4 cells.

By Joseph Calamia | August 23, 2010 4:53 pm

Queen_Victoria_1887A message from the Victorians: “I 1 der if you got that 1 I wrote 2U B4.” Helz ya, 1800s Brit10! We got it. Though they didn’t have cellphones or their 160-character limits, phrases like this one show nineteenth century English writers weren’t above an occasional stylistic shortcut.

The line comes from the poem “Essay to Miss Catharine Jay,” part of Charles Carroll Bombaugh’s 1867 Gleanings From the Harvest-Fields of Literature. The poem will appear in a forthcoming exhibit at The British Library as an example of “emblematic poetry.”

As Discovery News reports, such shortcuts appeared even before the Victorians; for example, the phrase IOU (for I owe you) originated in 1618. Txtese abbreviations appeared in literature from both sides of the Atlantic, with Americans also writing to Miss Catharine Jay, or Miss K T J.

Perhaps the proto-texts teach an important lesson: Lopping off word parts doesn’t mean you don’t have class. Another excerpt meant for Miss Catharine Jay:

But friends and foes alike D K,
As U may plainly C,
In every funeral R A,
Or Uncle’s L E G.

Related content:
Discoblog: Texting-While-Driving Coach Slightly Delays Appalling Crashes
Discoblog: Texting While Diving? Buoy Allows Text Messages From Submarines
Discoblog: Woman Receives First Ever PhD in Texting
Discoblog: Watch Those Thumbs Go! Champion Texter Wins $50,000
Discoblog: The New Defense Against Despotism: Text Messaging

Image: Wikimedia

  • Rhacodactylus

    The difference is, they actually learned the difference between “your” and “you’re” before abandoning both for ur.

  • Aaron


    If only this comment section had a “like” button . . .

  • Jennifer

    “Perhaps the proto-texts teach an important lesson: Lopping off word parts doesn’t mean you don’t have class.”

    Or maybe it just reminds us that there are people lacking class in every time period, Victorians included!


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