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Learning electronic chat lingo isn't so hard, IMHO

Sun Advocate/Emery County Progress

Are instant messaging and email messages getting harder to read? They may be, as chat slang is quickly infiltrating its way into virtually all informal electronic communication, from email and instant messages to cell phone text messages (SMS) and even online message boards, and forums.

Why? Because fingers get lazy and have no desire to re-type the same phrases over and over again. It's a lot easier and faster to type "BTW" than "by the way."

An added benefit is that you can fit more in a SMS text message (cell phone text messaging) when you abbreviate.

Chat slang is simply a collection of acronyms for common words or phrases. Here are several common ones:

• AFAIK. As Far As I Know.

• B4. Before.

• BRB. Be Right Back.

• BTW. By The Way.

• D/L. Download.

• U/L. Upload.

• FUD. Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt. This one seems to appear the most in "political" discussions, which often involve politicians but may even include controversial, political moves within parts of the the business community.

• L8R. Later.

• FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions.

• LOL. This one can be confused with another, very opposite message. Some years ago, someone sent a grieving friend a sympathy card with "LOL" written on the inside. To her, "LOL" meant "Lots of Love." She was a bit concerned and a little shocked when she was informed that in the Internet era, "LOL" actually means "Laugh Out Loud."

• FUBAR. Fouled Up Beyond All Repair or Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. This one seems to pop up a lot, in particular, on message boards or instant messaging channels that involve "techies" helping other "techies" with tech-related problems (software configuration issues, computer hardware questions, etc).

Some say the "F" in "FUBAR" doesn't stand for "fouled" but for something else entirely. The alternative is, quite frankly, offensive, and won't be mentioned here.

• FYI. This one is a bit obvious. For Your Information.

• IMHO. In My Humble Opinion or In My Honest Opinion.

• IM. Instant Message.

• JK. Just Kidding.

• NP. No Problem.

• PLZ. Please.

• THX. Thanks.

• TTFN. Ta-Ta For Now.

• TTYL. Talk to You Later.

And then there are some more colorful acronyms that frequent the tech realm:

• LMAO. Laughing My A** (posterior) Off.

• OMG. Oh My *** ('gosh').

• ROTFLMAO. Rolling on the Floor Laughing my A** (posterior) Off.

• RTFM. A savvy computer user was trying to get help from an online message board with some complicated software he was trying to get working. After discussing the matter on the message board, one replied "RTFM!"

Not sure what that meant, he did some online research and was a little shocked when he discovered that it meant "Read the Freaking Manual."

Like FUBAR, many insist the "F" in RTFM stands for something else. Again, the alternative word is pretty offensive.

Most Internet savvy users would probably agree, though, that using most of these acronyms is fine an appropriate within the scope of Internet and other tech communications (assuming the other person also understands the lingo), with the exception of formal writing.

If you are writing a formal email to your boss, for example, refrain from using anything but proper grammar - spell all the words out!

If you don't, your message will certainly lack professionalism. For example, if you were fessing up to accidentally ruining your office computer, you wouldn't want to say "Hey boss, I spilled my soda on my computer and now it's all 'FUBARed'!"

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