I was thinking the other day about how we’ve got the latest corruption of written language happening, where people sending SMS messages abbreviate and condense messages drastically. There are many people who decry this as a disaster and a shame: kids these days can’t spell.
The Romans already had this happening…
Compare writing a full English message on a 12 button interface to writing it out with a pencil, or using a full keyboard: there’s a serious time penalty for the 12 button interface.
Now compare chiseling information into a stone tablet to writing on parchment with a quill and ink.
Roman gravestones are a fantastic example of what happens when you have a serious penalty for each character you have to write.
For example, this funerary inscription in the Wikimedia commons is missing a lot of letters! Being able to read Latin is not nearly sufficient to be able to make heads or tails of this – you actually need to know what letters they were going to leave out.
I still haven’t figured out how to read text messages from some people….