Monday, 27 June 2011

Text Speak, Georgian Style

In the twenty-first century, we are all accustomed to the convention of 'text speak', a form of abbreviation generally employed in a non-formal context, such as in composing a text message or a response to a friend's post on Facebook. We instantly understand what is meant by 'Lol', 'rofl', 'atm' and 'wbu' and can easily incorporate them into our own repetoire. While these particularly terms are relatively modern innovations, it is a common misconception that such forms of abbreviation are a phenomenon confined to this century. In reading James Munson's most excellent book 'Maria Fitzherbert', I have been introduced to the Georgian equivalent of text speak, a variety of shorthand commonly used in composing letters.
Let me acquaint you with the most common forms -
"ye" for "the"
"ym" for "them"
"yr" for "your"
"yt" for "that"
"wt" for "what" or "with"
"wh" for "which"
"wd" for "would"

To view these quaint abbreviations in action, let me quote from a letter from the Prince Regent to Lady Anne Barnard (née Lindsay) regarding his intentions to (illegally) marry the Catholic widow, Mrs. Fitzherbert:
"I think you are perfectly right respecting yr. ideas of writing to her Relatives; it was ye best way of hinting her situation to ym. without alarming ym. too much...I shall be totally guided in this by yr. prudence & judgement & I only hope yt. as soon as it is in your power you will see me either at yr. own House or some third place: you really know not what I have suffer'd."

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