English 101-English Composition
Compare-Contrast Essay: Final
Texting - 1830’s Style
Texting has, in many instances, replaced telephone as a quick and easy way to communicate a short message in one direction over long distances. Sending quick one-way messages may feel like a modern convenience, but it is very similar to communicating through Morse Code on the electric telegraph - technology that was commonplace nearly 200 years ago. Had the electric telegraph been brought into the home, the need for modern day texting may have evolved quite differently, or maybe not at all.
The electric telegraph, invented in the 1830's, sent messages over wires from one point to another using the short ‘dots' and longer ‘dashes' of Morse Code. By the…show more content…
Staffed by young operators, convenient abbreviations for common Morse Code messages evolved such as min pen (wait a minute while I adjust my telegraph "pen"), cul (see you later), and ha (equivalent to a laugh). In an eerie way, telegraph slang predated very similar texting slang by over 100 years.
Another quirk of texting involves the strange language styles of teens. Have you ever tried to impersonate a teen's texting style only to find that the way you write texts just doesn’t "sound" the same as the way they write texts? Well, individual telegraph operators differed slightly in their style too. For example, some used slightly longer or shorter dots or dashes than other operators, and perhaps only for particular characters. It was so unique that individual operators could be identified by how they sent a message, regardless of the message itself. This uniqueness was known as an operator's "fist", and is very similar to how everyone texts differently through the use of various abbreviations, word choice, and grammar.
Because it wasn’t typically installed in homes, the telegraph never competed directly with the telephone. However, we find that texting now commonly replaces the extra effort of a phone call. We do not bother having an entire phone conversation to say, "I'm on my way" or "I'm running late" when a short and simple text message will do.