The publication of Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 last Saturday, extracted in the Guardian, has brought a flurry of correspondence. Of greatest interest have been an encounter with the unusual ways in which people have been using text-messaging - and indeed going well beyond it.
I'd not come across the SMS Guerilla Projector before - a device which lets people project text messages in public spaces onto walls or people, for instance. Then there are the performance art applications, illustrated by TXTual Healing. But probably the most remarkable phenomenon, from a linguistic point of view, is LOLcats, LOLdogs, and related sites. This started by showing cute pictures of the animals and captioning them in nonstandard English. It goes well beyond the limited conventions of text-messaging, and is now developing into a genre of its own. Most of the Old Testament seems to have been translated into it, it seems, as this LOLcat Bible site shows. The opening lines of Genesis 1 will give you the flavour.
Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
It only started in July 2007, and a year later about 60 per cent of the Bible is done. They're even trying to standardize it - see How to speak lolcat. It's an interesting mixture of baby-talk, animal-speak, and netspeak, along with some conventional nonstandard spelllings.
It's amazing what's out there, when you go looking!