Anyone with a teenager, or with teenage friends, or simply with friends a generation (or two!) younger than themselves, will be familiar with that furrowed brow you gain when trying to decipher a text message or a Facebook status that really seems to be written in another language.
For example us oldies have mostly worked out that “C u l8r” means “see you later”. A text or Facebook conversation can apparently read: – RU cmin out 2nite? -Yeah luv 2 m8, wot time? – bout 8ish. mt u in twn – gr8. cu then
So how much MORE difficult does it become, then, when the text-speak, or Facebook-speak, really IS in another language? Españ-FayBu-text-speak.
Having been attempting to get to grips with how my younger Spanish friends write, I’m slowly learning to decipher the code.
Tb = también = also
K = que = that
K kieres = que quieres = what do you want
Stoi = estoy = I am
Xk = por que / porqué = why / because
X is also used to replace CH as in xicas = chicas = girls or young women
@ is sometimes used to make plurals gender-neutral eg chic@s
Keda = queda = stay
Wapa = guapa = pretty, but mostly just used as a greeting.
I’m in a Facebook group of Spanish people living and working in London. I realise that I am neither Spanish, nor in London, but at times I can help guide them through the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to sort paperwork in a language that is not your own. For example, a week or so ago, a young man was trying to register a second-hand car he had bought. So he popped along to the Town Hall, who told him “Oh no, you don’t do that here, you have to go to Swansea.” Bemused, he went back to his shared flat and looked up Swansea on the internet. Even more bemused, he came onto the Facebook group and asked his countryfolk “Aaaargh! They tell me I must go to another country just to arrange my car?!?!?!?!” Poor guy. It must have seemed even worse than it does for a British person in Spain queuing at the police station for a green residency card.
So sometimes I’m able to help, and it’s good for my reading and writing of Spanish, as of course they all write in Spanish …. of a sort.
This next sample was from a young woman who once again needed models for free haircuts ….. “Wenas!!! Vuelvo a necesitar xicas ke se kieran cortar el pelo gratis! Pero esta vez solo chicas k kieran melenitas cortas o bob todos los martes. Tb colores y mechas por 10£ entre semana n la pelukeria kell scoot n notting hill si alguna esta interesada ke me agrege y ablamos!! Gracias!!” Clear?
One day I’d asked a Spanish friend via Facebook whether she was going to the fiesta that evening, and her reply came back “No, xk m keda cerca d casa tb.” After a long hard stare I worked out that she wasn’t going out (though to be honest, without the “no” at the start, I’d have struggled!).
So I’m now having to learn FOUR Spanish languages – Castilian (as spoken in Madrid and at my language school), Andaloo (as spoken in the rural south), cateto (as spoken in the villages, though this is a derogatory term implying they are uncultured) and what I can only call Españ-FayBu-text-speak. Oh and I have to remember which one to produce, at the right time in the right setting. Sigh. M keda cansao.
© Tamara Essex 2014