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FREE e-mail English Course: Do you understand 'Mobile Speak'?

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Lesson 45
Dear Friend,

We have exciting news for you!

In a couple of days, you'll be able to start taking our tests on your cell or mobile phone. But first, let me ask you this: Are you familiar with 'Mobile Phone Speak'? Back in 2003, Alan Townend wrote a fantastic essay titled 'Mobile Crazy' on this topic, describing how people in the UK use their mobile phones to keep abreast of the latest developments. Quite a lot has changed since then. Worldwide, there are now more mobile phones than people. Statistically, everyone on earth, including babies and senior citizens, owns at least one cellphone. This means that there are by far more people with mobile phones than with computers!

Now, back to the 'language of mobile phones'. First, there's the term 'mobile phone' itself, which emerged in the early 90s. Before that, the word 'handset' was used to describe a telephone able to receive and transmit signals via wireless network. Nowadays, many Europeans refer to their wireless telephones as 'mobile phones' or simply 'mobiles'. You can hear phrases such as 'Please call me on my mobile'. North Americans usually call them 'cell phones'. And many Germans use another English word to talk about their phones: 'Handy'. 'Handy' is an English word that's normally used as an adjective or adverb in phrases like 'This might come in handy'. However, a lot of native English speakers living and working in Germany use the word 'handy' when referring to cell phones too. So you can hear them say something like 'Please call me on my handy'. Linguists call this phenomenon 'language transfer' or 'language interference'.

Friend, many of the English learners I work with ask me which term is more common, 'mobile (phone)' or 'cell phone', and this question has been discussed at length on Internet forums. I prefer the phrase 'mobile phone' for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are lots of mobile phone providers which carry (INCLUDE) the word 'mobile' in their name, such as China Mobile (the industry leader) and T-Mobile (one of the largest companies worldwide). Also, 'mobile phone' is a compound noun (a noun made up of two words), which can be shortened to 'mobile', so instead of saying 'I'm calling you from my mobile phone', you can simply say 'I'm calling you from my mobile'. This is not possible with 'cell phone', since 'cell' is ambiguous. You don't want to say 'I'm calling you from my cell', since this could mean that you are an inmate calling from your prison cell!

Friend, at the beginning of this email, I mentioned that you will soon be able to use our English language materials on your mobile. Now I'd like to point (DIRECT) you to our forum poll, where you can tell us what features and contents you want to see on your 'app'. Please follow this link: What features would you like to see in our Mobile English Language App?

And in my next email, you will learn more about this new software application, so watch this space for more.

Best regards,
Torsten Daerr

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