I found myself dry recently when we were to submit a love letter to our mentors as our first assignment as Pulse Wire correspondents. Reasons? I knew what to write but I didn’t know how best to convey it. Ever since mobile phones were introduced in my country some years ago with a feature called 'Short Message Service' (SMS), it has almost eroded my ability to be able to write in formal English. I have gotten used to SMessing (writing using shortened and coded words) so much that it was challenging writing continously without using the coded words.

The problem with this is that we are contributing to a 'language death.' I miss the sweet old days when we used to write long, creative fluent letters to each other employing creative and carefully chosen words. But all that is dying especially in my country where 'sheng' has taken centre stage in most of our communication. 'Sheng' is a hybrid language that is a mixture of English, kiswahili and some other native languages, was mostly common among youths but it has now gripped all ages.

Gone are the words like 'I hope you are doing well'. What you here is 'op u doin ok' and you rarely hear statements like 'you looked great yesterday'. Instead, you are likely to come up with something like 'u lkd gr8 ysta.' with this trend, most of us who use the SMS system always find it challenging to write in formal language.

Hey journeywomen, is it only in Kenya or is it happening anywhere else? What do we do?

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Go ahead my friend. Keep writing. It is nice to know that someone cares about doing things the old fashioned RIGHT way. People should be more like you. We should never let the good language die, as the size of our brains would shrink and die with it.

Go Joanna, go!!



Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva Tarija - Bolivia South America www.jap21.wordpress.com

Dear Joanna, Firstly, thank you so much for accepting my friend request. Sure we will move together in this journey. Reading this post, I would like to comment you as I have a same habit of using short words. I understand you, but sometimes when we write short word, it might convey wrong message so we need to change this habit. I know it's very difficult, because it's become a habit. Believe me; I have also same habit like you. I think if we focus while writing we can improve this mistake.

With Love and RegardsSunita Basnet

Hej Girlfriends,

We can all join the rafiki club and enjoy writing letters the traditional way and exchanging them with women in rural Kenya. Many are the times that we see empowerment coming from the elite to the grassroot but I guess this is one way that the grassroot women can empower the elite. Their writing is simple and keen on spelling and and grammar. Have you read the letters posted on the Rafiki Club journal? We can all engage in this exercise and be empowered. Join the Club!!!

Hi Joannes

I guess its same everywhere as we all do that in one way or the other and it is so difficult to change this habit. It becomes even difficult when preparing formal documents and the only way to remind ourselves is keep practicing formal writing and continuing with the short cuts as we are used to them and so are the people who get our messages. Keep writing

Regards Anjana

Hi Joanna...

I have to admit that it is the same everywhere....smses and online chatting have of course spoilt us....last time i was checking Communication papers of the students and i could see how it has affected them...they used shortcuts everywhere lien N for and, Y for why...things like that and they are unaware of it because it has become imbibed in them...

I hear my mom talk about how dad used to write her long letters after they got engaged..i was like WOW!...we hardly hear something like this today...all we do is chat on MSN or Meebo or yahoo or google....but we rarely think of writing letters...we are for sure losing the charm of lot of things...

I loved this piece of yours..

Cheers Khushbu

Khushbu Agrawal

I don't use it myself but do catch my girls doing it with their schoolwork and stop it right away since it is an easy habit to get into. I never instant chat though, or whatever it is called nowadays since it seems to have grown into a huge assortment of ones but can always tell when my friends start doing it since they suddenly start emailing me with weird words and ask if i have ever tried instant chat things...

I agree with MamaAfrica, join the Rafiki club, not only do you meet a woman from there but discover the thrill of a pen pal and find yourself looking at stationery in a new way at the stores too!

It is interesting to see how popular it is now everywhere.


Alas Joanna, as you see, it is not just in Kenya where speech and communication is reduced to "text" language. I see it as a generational condition as your age group has grown up on technological devices for communication, whereas I remember the days when all communication was by letter and I would wait patiently for a response from my cousin in another country. I miss the excitement of finding a letter in the mailbox, which is why mamaAfrica's Rafiki Club is so much fun. I get to relive the joys of letter writing and have the opportunity to brush up on my written English. I'm afraid that Maria and I belong to another generation, and will probably never learn this new "language".

Hey, maybe we should become each other's pen pals! Wouldn't that be fun, receiving letters from all over the world. The beauty of letters is that you get to hold something in your hand, you can read it over and over, and capture a glimpse of the writer through their handwriting. If anyone is interested, send your addresses to my email address (DO NOT WRITE THEM HERE) and I will compile them together and share them privately with whoever wants to write letters.

So, who's in? I'll be the first.....