Thursday 30 September 2010

Idle Chatter

I recently found this letter to the Daily Examiner (29 February 1897), which throws an interesting light on an obscure subject:

Dear Sir,

I write to question the utility of certain peculiar abbreviations, which have become increasingly common in the written discourse of our nation. I refer, of course to the prevalence of such grotesque admixture of vowels and consonants as IEMMIAAF and WTDDYMS. Such (ab)uses of the English tongue are both loose and vulgar; and have no place in a national newspaper. These terms are believed to have originated in the idle chatter of lady telegraphists. It is my earnest request that they remain in the province of the 'dot-and-dashes' and I enjoin you to refrain from repeating them, in an organ with a wide circulation, which is frequently exposed to both servants and unprotected females.
           ACC (A Concerned Citizen.)

The editor of the paper, however, clearly found this complaint a source of amusement. Immediately below the letters section, there appears 'A Ready Guide to Popular Abbreviations'. I reproduce some of the more interesting examples below.

IEMMIAAF - I express my mirth in an audible fashion.
WTDDYMS - What the Devil do you mean, sir?
IPUTDWEMMIAAF - I pivot upon the drugget whilst expressing my mirth in an audible fashion.
MWTIQE - My word! That is quite extraordinary!
IEMMSFTMPIIDOCL - I express my mirth so forcibly that my posterior is in danger of coming loose.
ISRP - I shall return presently.
IIWTPAO - If I were to proffer an opinion
AYOTAOMPTMLAAMOTFPOH  - Are you of the age of majority, proximate to my location, and a member of the fairer portion of humanity?

This all reminds me of something, but I can't quite think what.


  1. Sadly these seem to have been authored in the C21st. You had me for a while.


    I can't imagine what you're suggesting :-)

  3. Sorry Belinda, but you mean IPUTDWEMMIAAF, right?

  4. Oh yes, pardon me. Indeed. Quite right.



    Being a bit of a traditionalist and a refuse-nik when it comes to "modern written language", does this mean I am allowed to use "text speak" in text messages and finally succumb to peer pressure without feeling like a member of "the youth of today"?

    Dare I venture that that would be "GR8"?

  6. Oh dear, I do believe it terribly unseemly in an unprotected female such as myself, but I cannot help but EMMSFTMPIIDOCL.

  7. Do not agitate yourself, ma'am.