To all those who bemoan text-messaging language as completely unintelligible, the NYT's Ben Schott notes there's nothing new about abbreviating words. When people sent telegrams, they were often forced to cut words because carriers charged extra for long words and messages, which gave rise to a "boom in telegraphic code books that reduced both common and complex phrases into single words." In an excerpt from one of these books we learn that Flank stood for: "A fire is raging here. Please send engine." Just a tad more difficult to decipher than l8r.
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