This extremely interesting post at bethemedia explains the uses and abuses of “predictive text messaging,” a phenomenon of which I was unaware. Sample and conclusion:

And kids (and Media Types from London) are telling me my blog is totally Book. WHAT? Here’s the great new thing. Because ‘Book’ comes up before the word ‘Cool’ on T9, effectively kids are now re-associating the ‘Signified’ – our perfect Platonic notion of ‘Cool’ – with a signifier that shares no traditional meaning derived from existing language, but jumps to another (almost) randomly associated signifier – simply because of T9 associating them through structural similarities.

Language is set to evolve a new way – around technology, and with marvellous effects. And random association and correct spelling look like they will be preserved in the process.

Thanks for the link, Ben!


  1. At Diacritques is a post dealing with this predictive phenomenon: deciphering the message “Pocket go big bag on kitchen floor can be pulled off stems and 10 mins soak go cold water will revive it”.

  2. Well, I *do* text, but didn’t know anything about this angle! Rest assured, LanguageHat is definitely Book!

  3. Andrew Dunbar says

    I now think of T9 characters in the same way as Han characters with different senses and different readings for a character made up of a specific set of strokes.

  4. I actually have some experience with this myself. I’ve sent a few texts letting people know that I would be good after a specified length of time. Of course, I meant to tell them that I’d be home

  5. Here a similar phenomenon in Chinese is discussed. (See 2 messages at the bottom of the page; the discussion is in Russian.)

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