top of page

Misunderstanding Texts

Is punctuation, capitalization, proper sentence structure, and complete sentences a thing of the past? When I look over some texts, tweets, and posts, I begin to think, YES! However, I wish that it wasn't. Some from my generation (or older) like to imply that only the "young people" seem to use improper English; however, that is untrue. Not by the examples I have seen. The problem with shortening sentences by removing certain letters, words, or punctuation is clarity. Add in there are unwritten rules that not everyone is in on.

The written word is already lacking in the inflection of voice. For example, a simple question such as, "How are you?" When answered with the verbal letter "K," the listener would hear the tone of voice. With tone, the probability of knowing if it was a happy "K," an unhappy "K," or a sarcastic "K" is attainable. Through text, no matter how one types the letter, capitalized or not, with punctuation or not, the specific punctuation, the receiver is only guessing at the inflection and meaning because they cannot hear how it is being said.

The interpretation of a simple letter "K" can create havoc in a relationship. Apparently, just responding to a text with a lonely letter K (capitalized or not) is offensive! I've read that this feeling is generational. However, I surveyed 20 people ages ranging from 18 - 60; of those that answered my query, 64% said receiving a text with merely the letter k was not good. Five people in the entire group surveyed said that depending on the conversation and/or whom they were texting, it could go either way. How people felt about receiving a text with the single letter K was not divided by age.

I found this very interesting. I have never given the k's I have texted or received that much thought. Keep in mind, I do not text a single letter often, but when I do, there is never any malice behind it. In the same vein, I do not presume there is malice when someone texts it to me. However, I do prefer a well-constructed text with proper capitalization and ending punctuation. Ending punctuation in texts brings me to another issue in texting ...

I have only recently learned that the period, that lonely speck at the end of a sentence when one uses it in a text, is often considered passive-aggressive or combative! Who knew? Not I! It would seem using the period in a text is like verbally ending your sentence with an emphatic "PERIOD." For example, if your text read, "I am headed over now." It would be considered a bit threatening because of the period. Verbally, it would "sound" like this, "I am headed over now. Period." Using the period in a text is "shorthand" for the word, I guess!?

There are no steadfast rules for texting. There isn't a course being taught anywhere, and whatever rules there may be, seem to change over time or have exceptions. There is etiquette but it is not widely known. Texts are often misunderstood. I firmly believe that many misunderstood texts have caused many a fight. Possibly even broke up some relationships. My advice? Be as clear as possible. Be sure you and those you text are not jumping to the wrong conclusion regarding your mood, tone, or motive. If you think your text is being misunderstood or misrepresents your intent, you could call the person! I know how horrifying that sounds, but it is that or meet the person face-to-face, right!? K.

Love Lots; Smile Often



bottom of page