Lost in Translation

Remember when you had a conversation with someone and you knew what they were talking about? Remember a time when everyone in your house communicated in the same language? Well, after reading my 12-year-old daughter’s “text speak”, I can confirm that the English language as we once knew it, has well and truly taken on a life of its own in such a way, that I feel I need to take some time to decipher it and share it with my fellow parents as a heads up into the conversations at the end of our children’s fingertips.

I recently read an entire conversation on Instagram which was a series of abbreviations and emojis. I was genuinely convinced that my daughter was running a European drugs cartel from her mobile phone and I was on a mission to get to the bottom of what was being said. I approached the matter from the standpoint of a concerned parent, to re-enforce the concept of internet safety, recognising cyberbullying and not speaking to online strangers. What I got, was a lesson in Snapchat filters…. no wonder I didn’t recognise the children she was texting…. And the meanings of flame emojis and what on earth a “Bae” is.

When posting photographs on social media, you may see something along the lines of

“she chose//tagging mains//comments//say if missed”

This is when someone is posting a photo of themselves or something, that they wish others to comment on. They then “tag” (apply) the names of their main friends on the picture and invite them to pass comment, whilst also requesting that others highlight anyone who was missed in the tagging process so that they can then go back and remedy this oversight. I found the latter part of this process to be quite inclusive of others. Basically, an individual recognises up front that there is a chance they forgot to include someone, but asks others to help them out in ensuring everyone is involved.

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So gorg and thx for the tag b xxx”, loosely translated means “You are so gorgeous. Thank you for tagging me in your post my lovely friend xxx”

fire emoji text talk social media

Is a slightly alarming way of telling someone they are hot, not an icon for threatening to set fire to something, or a hazard warning that they are working with explosive materials.


“Hey Peng. Ur on fleek. Lysm bbyg. Ttyl”. Once I deciphered this one, it made a lot of sense, leaving me with a sense of achievement and feeling mighty chuffed with myself once I began applying the same style of writing to reading other comments…. “Hello there, you’re a very pretty person. You are just perfect. Love you so much baby girl. Talk to you later.”Once I got the hang of it, it was quite simple.

I forgot everything I knew about grammar, sentence structure and basically just reading in a way that remotely resembled anything legible, I was well away with reading through comments on photos and anything else that caught my eye on social media. I don’t know that my daughter and her friends are as impressed as I am and I am sure this could lead to them creating an entirely new language that will place me firmly back at square one like a cruel game of snakes and ladders, but for now I have the upper hand and am better equipped at making sure my daughter is safe online, without having to encroach on her too much.

We have compiled a quick reference guide to help you be one tiny step ahead.

slang text talk social media



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