When we arrived in
Last week I attended a seminar presented by Malinda Ginmaule, a Papua New Guinean who we recently hired as an intern in our linguistics department. She did a research project as part of her university studies on how mobile phones and specifically text messaging (called SMS here) is affecting language use in PNG. It was very interesting.
Most people use either English or Tok Pisin (two of the national languages) to send SMS messages, but it is also common to use their local vernacular or a mixture of languages. Texting is all about efficiency, and so people will use whichever language can say things more concisely. For example, instead of using the English “come,” you would use the Tok Pisin word “kam.” Likewise, as in English, numbers are used to shorten words. The Tok Pisin word “sipsip” (sheep) becomes “sip2” when you are texting.
For instance, requesting 10 kina means “Thank you” (10Q)
Requesting 42 kina means “call me” (a four letter word followed by a two letter word)
Requesting 43 kina means “love you” (a four letter word followed by a three letter word)
Requesting 99 kina means “Night-night” (Good night)