NWAL, here ROFL! (NTTAWTT).
No, that’s not programming code. That’s text-message slang, and those are internet acronyms. Translation: Nerd without a life, here! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).
If you know someone who likes to use text-messaging or instant messaging (IM), then you’ve no doubt been stumped by this shorthand, which is working its way into the fabric of our language and culture.
I was at Quik Trip getting my morning caffeine fix a few days ago, when these teens were talking to one another. One asked a question, and the other replied (verbally) “I-D-K.” I finally figured out that was “I don’t know.” On a morning talk show recently, the hosts were joking about using “LOL” (laughing out loud) sarcastically at the end of sentences to get away with saying things that normally would be socially unacceptable to say (i.e. “Well, isn’t that a fun hairdo! L-O-L”).
So, what to do? If someone sends you one of these abbreviations, and you don’t know what it means – it’s usually better not to guess. If you don’t have the time or desire to look it up, simply reply with a question mark (“?”), and hopefully they’ll clarify. If you want to look it up, there are a lot of good lists online. Sharpened Glossary has a pretty good list of the most common abbreviations.
Also, you might simply try entering the acronym in your search engine search box, (e.g. “define LOL” or “internet slang AFK”).
NetLingo is a rather comprehensive list of these acronyms. If you have any SNERTs (snotty-nosed egotistical rotten teens) in your life, you might want to text a couple of the more obscure ones to them, to see if they need to “WORD” up.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.