Why is everything running so fast these days? In fact, I cannot think of anything that does not have speed woven into it these days. Back then we used to write letters with great satisfaction. We knew it would take about four days for to be delivered but we did not care. It would take about another three days to receive a reply if one is lucky but that gave us some kind of joy. It was called the joy of anticipation. I remember my secondary school days – we would conveniently mob the letter boy (much to his inconvenience) every time he comes around hoping that some sweetheart somewhere had been kind enough to send us a one-page letter – often written out boldly on a scented letter pad (if the sender is from a Girls’ School) or on a not-so white ‘official’ paper if the sender is from a Boys’ School. Our letter boy was a very interesting sight; it was believed that earlier in his growing up process, he stopped growing upwards. His growth then took a wider and horizontal turn giving him a ball-like look and the tendency to look up all the time when people talked to him. It was always a sorry sight to see all of us crowded around him, asking all sorts of questions at the same time.

I remember there was so much joy in receiving a letter, reading it and smelling the paper and the ink that was used. The whole letter writing process was an art, often beginning with a lovely thought and then gradually making its way through paper selection, licking postage stamps incessantly and finally ending with the sight of your full name, school address and room number on a mildly crumpled envelope capable of making you the happiest of persons for a whole week! Today, letters and just about everything that goes through the post office is called snail mail! Ask me the last time I entered the post office and I would be ashamed to admit that the answer will not even be a ‘no’; it will be an emphatic ‘I DON’T REMEMBER!’ How slow I must have been then…or was I?

Today, there is fast food, quick searches as opposed to the then long and laborious library research in those days. There’s instant banking, instant news, instant everything. Even court trials have become fast-tracked! Interesting? Wait till you hear this; the very language we speak has become much too slow for the fast-track nature of today’s world and so language is becoming shorter and shorter and faster to communicate! If you send a text message with every word typed in full plus the right punctuation marks, you would be considered old fashioned and not up to date. Text messaging has developed its unique language. You type ‘pls’ when you want to say ‘please’. You type ‘l8r’ when you want to say ‘later’ and so on.

And then this text language evolved into what has become the glorified and more frightening chat language. Hardly will you find any chat message devoid of words (are they words?) like ‘LOL’, ‘TTYL’, ‘OMG’ and the rest. I remember the first time I ever saw the word ‘LOL’ I innocently interpreted it to mean, ‘Lots Of Love’. I was wrong. It meant, ‘Laugh Out Loud’. When I first saw, ‘OMG’ I thought it meant, ‘On My Guard’; it meant, ‘Oh My Gosh’! And i keep asking myself whether I would ever be able to keep up with this. It seems everyday brings with it, new constructions and inventions of this language. Recently, I came across ‘LOOL’; I thought it was a mistake, it wasn’t, it meant ‘Laughing Out Outrageously Loud’! And then there’s ‘SMH’ which means, ‘Shaking My Head’; I must admit, the first time I saw it I thought it meant ‘Somebody Help’. Here are a few more:
ROFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing
AFAIK: As Far As I Know
CID: Consider It Done
GAL: Get A Life
GBTW: Get Back To Work…etc.

And here are a few that I have laboured to construct for your use (please remember to mention your source anytime you use them).
SUN: Shut Up Now
BOS: Banku Okro Stew
LIL: Laughing Incredibly Loud
OR: Oh Really?
LMSM: Lend Me Some Money
TS: Titus Sardine
TTTTT: Traffic
FB: Football (hmm…sounds like FaceBook)
BAG: Bra Asamoah Gyan
S: Suarez
I: Indomie
WWNE: Wonders Will Never End
AG: Agye-eeii!
EB: Ebe-eei!
OH: Oooo Ho!

These are what I have for now. I hope to come your way again with newly developed constructions for your use. But on a more serious note, I can’t help believing that very soon, our verbal conversations will become much faster than they are today. Our much preferred ‘Ghanaianized’ expressions will all fade away leaving things like ‘O’ for our characteristic ‘Ooo exclamation; ‘A’ for our ‘Ahaa!, ‘S’ for our ‘Saaa? And so on…

That will not be all; our conversational actions like the throwing of our hands in the air to express surprise, aggression or despair will give way to verbal expressions like, ‘THIS’ – Throwing Hands In Surprise. Our many facial expressions will give way to things like ‘MWOIS’ – Mouth Wide Open In Shock and many more. So don’t be surprised if very soon, you begin to see two people engaged in an flat conversation, where you don’t hear a shout, a moan; you don’t see an action, a facial expression and so on. I believe that time is coming where in a conversation, you will hear someone say (motionlessly and expressionlessly): ‘I am LOLling’ or pronounce the letters ‘OMG’ to convey his mood. I can almost imagine a situation where someone in an apparent expression of pain simply says (without action or facial expression) ‘FCIP’ – Face Contorted In Pain!

Charlie! Oh hooo! Where are we running to?

(Emmanuel Amankwah lives in Accra and writes a blog @ www.emmanuelamankwah.blogspot.com)