"SMS language is similar to that used by those sending telegraphs that charged by the word."

source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS_language

I think the part "that charged" is grammatically incorrect, which should be corrected as "that were charged".

Am I right? I just want to confirm my view.

  • 2
    Odd, to say the least. In most cases telegrams were sent. – Hot Licks Sep 3 '17 at 1:42

Regarding your specific question: The problem you point out (correctly) is not so much grammar as meaning. Who is being "charged"? "Those" the sentence refers to, or the "telegraphs"? My question here is not a nitpick. The sentence genuinely made me confused as to who was the party being charged, the sender, the transmitter, or the receiver? "Telegraph" is the method of transmission, "telegram" is the actual message, so I assume the "telegraph" service would charge "those" who use it (senders or receivers) for the length of the "telegram"? Since making these distinctions is not the point of the sentence in the first place, I would pick one.

SMS language is similar to that used in telegrams, which were charged by the word.

Or alternatively:

SMS language is similar to that which was used by telegraph services, which charged by the word.

(I don't know if "telegraph" can be used as a shorthand for "telegraph services". I don't have enough knowledge of the topic to tell.)

Also, FYI, in addition to the issue you raised, I made the following change: I replaced "that" by ", which" on the assumption that telegraph notation was pretty universal and there was only the one kind. However, if there were different types of telegrams--ones that were charged per word and ones that weren't--and the sentence specifically refers to the first kind, it can stay as the original has it. For example:

SMS language is similar to that used in telegrams that were charged by the word.

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