Sunday, January 22, 2006

Marta wouldn't let go of me yesterday, and I was so tired at some point that I found it much easier to send an sms to a British friend visiting Kyiv than calling him and having to speak in English. And today's New York Times Magazine has a piece on text-messaging - The Pleasures of the Text:


There are also cultural reasons for the spread of text-messaging elsewhere. The Chinese language is particularly well-suited to the telephone keypad, because in Mandarin the names of the numbers are also close to the sounds of certain words; to say "I love you," for example, all you have to do is press 520. (For "drop dead," it's 748.) In China, moreover, many people believe that to leave voice mail is rude, and it's a loss of face to make a call to someone important and have it answered by an underling. Text messages preserve everyone's dignity by eliminating the human voice.

This may be the universal attraction of text-messaging, in fact: it's a kind of avoidance mechanism that preserves the feeling of communication - the immediacy - without, for the most part, the burden of actual intimacy or substance. [...]

By 2 a.m., I was even more tired - especially tired of having only one hand available for typing long passages of text on the computer - and I ended up taking audio notes, something I'd never done before. I have a little lisp, and I speak Russian with a trace of what sounds like Moscow accent. I suffered through a radio class at the University of Iowa back in 1997, so I was aware of the lisp, and of the accent I have in English, but it was still quite a revelation to hear myself like this again, after all these years and in Russian. On the recordings, I'm interrupted by Marta's screams every now and then, and she also sneezes twice at some point, and I tell her 'bud' zdorova, koshechka.'


  1. [cite]to leave voice mail is rude[/cite]—strongly subscibe to this opinion; moreover, to telecommute via voice is not a less rude, unless your party is Pavarotti himself..

    Btw, while back i've noticed an sms phenomenon in Poland--slavic brothers are so different indeed..

  2. I cant live without my mobile and I send piles of sms a day. In 3 languages.

    I would never leave a voice message. For some reason I am absolutely certain that it won't be listened to! I would much rather communicate via written media. Or in person.


    Thanks once again for a wonderful link and for making it all the more human. Love your MArta stories!