Back in March a professor complained that he couldn’t understand student exams which were hastily written in text messaging language:

Perhaps I am one of the last remaining anachronisms who is at all troubled by the likes of: In L8 17thC bills of xchange were issd by govt on a regulr basis as overcs trade xpnded.” Or The 4t of migratn to US attactd a gr8 % of servants and yng peple @ this time.” Or, my favourite to date, In Shxpeare’s Eng u had 2 b rich 2 go to schl but sumX bys + grls lrnd reading and ritng at Om.”

Well, it looks like he is an anachronism, since the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary have decided to include such language in the new Compact edition:

In Oxford Dictionaries we have been monitoring the phenomenal growth of text messaging with great attention. Its influence is now such that we felt it was time to treat it as an integral part of English,” said Judy Pearsall, publishing manager for English Dictionaries.

I’m sure that this will provoke lots of grief all around. But I personally think that such language will itself eventually become anachronistic. It is only a matter of time before better input methods eliminate the need for such time saving techniques. I already find it much easier to enter full words using the T9 input method on my cell phone. Voice input, virtual keyboards, handwriting recognition, and other such methods will all improve enough that we won’t need to look up phrases like AFAIK in the dictionary.