What do you call the sequences of letters that produce phrases when read letter by letter? Examples include "CU" for "see you", "IC" for "I see" and so on.

  • 1
    Look here for the various terms being used in textese. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 25 '14 at 20:33
  • @EdwinAshworth I wasn't looking for the terms themselves but for the collective name. Speaking of which "textese" sounds pretty close, so thank you! – Rafał Dowgird Feb 25 '14 at 20:39
  • Textese includes other shortened forms (eg lol) as well as the 'letter for similar sounding word' ones you specify. There are even pictograms. You probably want 'logograms'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 25 '14 at 20:47
  • You would see such things occasionally before the days of texting or the Internet. In fact, I recall a whole book of cartoons with such captions. IMNDLF8R and so on. – GEdgar Feb 25 '14 at 22:55

While we may tend to think of an abbreviation as a shortening to the first part of a word (abbrev for abbreviation), it can be defined as

a shortened form of a written word or phrase used in place of the whole

Wikipedia has this to say about "Textese" in particular:

Widespread use of electronic communication through mobile phones and the Internet during the 1990s allowed for a marked rise in colloquial abbreviation. [...] SMS, for instance, supports message lengths of 160 characters at most [...]. This brevity gave rise to an informal abbreviation scheme sometimes called Textese, with which 10% or more of the words in a typical SMS message are abbreviated.

Of course, there are many types of abbreviations, but, broadly speaking, "txtpsk" is an abbreviating act.

  • i h8 abrvi8shunz. – tchrist Feb 26 '14 at 13:34
  • I also am not too fond of them, Mr. – nxx Feb 26 '14 at 13:36
  • I'm more familiar with the name "textspeak" than "Textese", but otherwise this answer is about what I would have answered. – IQAndreas Feb 26 '14 at 13:47
  • Yes, Wikipedia used "Textese" so I had to use it to say that's what was being discussed. I prefer "textspeak" ("txtspk"), so you'll see I threw it in there :) There are quite a number of different terms in use for it though. – nxx Feb 26 '14 at 13:49

German Wikipedia calls them Abbreviations and Acronyms as can be found here: Liste von Abkürzungen (Netzjargon). However, there is no corresponding article in English (at least now).

There are also Abbreviations called Homophone, such as ICQ ("I seek you").

  • 1
    Extrapolating from the German page there, it seems like "net jargon" or "netspeak" (or "chatspeak") might all apply. – KChaloux Feb 25 '14 at 22:52
  • They can be used in SMS messages too, thus it is not the "net jargon" only. Maybe, it seems more like abbreviations and acronyms of the 21st century or the digital age. (?) At least, because of their current popularity. – Dmytro Dzyubak Feb 25 '14 at 23:10

Those are logograms. In the specific context of text messages (aka SMS), logograms and pictograms are often combined in the infamous SMS language. If combined with pictures or other non-alphanumeric elements, they become rebuses.

  • 2
    Your link says "logograms are visual symbols representing words rather than the sounds or phonemes that make up the word", so I'm not sure that fits for the OP's specific examples ("CU" = the exact sounds of "see you"). – nxx Feb 26 '14 at 12:53
  • Does that include "Thz R lggrmz. n th spsfc cntxt v txt msjs (aka SMz), lggrmz & pctgrmz R oftn cmbnd n th nfmz SMz lngj. f cmbnd wth pctrs o othr nn-alfnmrc elmnts, thy bcm rbss." as well? – tchrist Feb 26 '14 at 13:33

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