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REVIEW: Uwot?! -- What Those Text Messages Really Mean.


'Uwot?! -- What Those Text Messages Really Mean' is a supposedly humorous guide to the so-called 'hidden meanings' of text messages.

From the cover the reader might presume that this book simply translates the 'text-speak' now commonly used in mobile phone messages into common English. This is not the case. What Stuart McLean's book actually does is present numerous 'comedic' spins on oft-used text messages. Thankfully editorial policy prevents me from reproducing any of the text-speak examples in this review. For those unfamiliar with text messaging shorthand, just imagine a regular phrase, sentence or statement with all the spaces, punctuation and most of the vowels removed. Also substitute numbers for any appropriate words - so 'for' becomes '4', 'to' becomes '2', etc.

What is most surprising about 'Uwot?!' is that the text-speak is remarkably intuitive. Having never sent or received any text-speak phone messages I thought that I would find the book indecipherable, but text-speak is very easy to pick up. Even at its most convoluted the text phrases can be read after a few tries. However the humorous translations supplied are not so understandable. McLean would have the reader believe that the meaning behind every text message ever sent is a cynically lewd reference to sex or beer. Whilst there are a few amusing entries in the book, most of them are obvious and not actually funny. The sections where text messages are formulated by the use of symbols and punctuation to create rough graphical representations are the low point of the book as the 'images' rarely resemble anything in particular.

The fact is that this book attempts to render text-speak cool and funny when it is by nature lame and often humourless. The text-speak now used on mobile phone messages has evolved from Internet chat abbreviations which were created by what I would presume were not the coolest and funniest people around. The 'emoticons' formed by configurations of punctuation marks to denote the emotive aspects of a typed statement were created to aid communication over the Internet and have now been adopted by text message users. McLean is doing nothing new in this book, except that he has applied his forced humour on the text messages to mixed effect.

This book, like all humour titles of this sort is a decidedly hit and miss affair. When McLean does come up with a funny 'translation' or present us with an inventive emoticon the reader feels compelled to read on in case another gem is waiting to be unearthed. However these moments are fleeting and most of the time the book is a disappointment. 'Uwot?! -- What Those Text Messages Really Mean' is one of those tiny books that are placed by the check-out in book stores - the folly of the impulse buyer. They are inevitably read once then thrown away. As the review copy I read is not mine I'm not afforded the luxury of binning 'Uwot?!', but then again I didn't have to pay for it either. There hasn't been an emoticon invented which can convey the subtle mix of frustration, disappointment and irritation instilled in this reader by this book.

CONCLUSION: What to do with a humour title which just isn't funny? Buy it for someone you don't particularly like! Now that will make you laugh.

Title: Uwot?! -- What Those Text Messages Really Mean Author: Stuart McLean Published by: Summersdale ISBN: 1-84024-215-9 Price: GBP2.50 Reviewer: Kevin Turner
COPYRIGHT 2002 Normans Media Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Turner, Kevin
Publication:M2 Best Books
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 13, 2002
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