I've been IM'g in a work atmosphere for over a year now, with internal and external folks, and still actively networking for tech info, support, etc. That peer group has a fairly well-defined set of etiquette, jargon, and style. In my new company, we are rolling out enterprise IM, and for most folks (including IT!), this is a "foreign language". (I'm "jpm1234" in the conversations below ...)
smb2468: I nd a hr or so to fnsh chgs frm ystrdy..i wl lt u kn
smb2468: hope u lk
smb2468: grt wkn u hv plnned
jpm1234: nice abbrevs, super hard to read HHH LOL
At which point, I had to stop and call up "smb", because I'd no idea what he meant by grt wkn.
Challenge #2: The jargon is definitely a leap for some; here's another exchange with "tlb", a deeply technical guy who nevertheless has never played with this stuff.
jpm1234: would anubody bust a clot if we installed this IIS app with MSDE SQL Server on a desktop, and allowed the desktop owner's neighbors to access the guy's machine direct?
tls5678: Yep. Why would you want to go around the process like that unless you are talking temp until we can go perm.
jpm1234: temp / speed to implement, plus we're only talking about 5 users total - not a major app
tls5678: Maybe not; but, how does it get supported ? Too many one-offs create a real tough situation
jpm1234: hhh yy
jpm1234: k tx l8r
tls5678: wtf ?
At which point, I had to stop and call up "tls", because I'd just lost him with the abbrev's. I cracked him up when I told him what hhh yy meant; it's more a sound and an attitude that really doesn't translate well when spelled out ("he he he, yes yes"). At least he knows the important jargon <g>.
The really eye-opening exchange came next. I work with the local IT group in our facility in Mexico, and I'm appreciative (and a bit self-conscious) of "ezz"'s efforts in learning and speaking English. I'm dredging up my high-school Spanish, and listening to CDs in the car, and it's sort of coming along. Anyway, we've realized that IM is now Yet Another Conduit for communication, but I've quickly realized I need to change my style!
Challenge #3: Bilingual text messaging with two folks at different levels of fluency in each other's native language. This requires less fast-typing in English sentence fragments; when I can work en Espanol, do it, else type out very simple and clear sentences en Englais:
ezz4321: We have problems with e-mail
jpm1234: si, y aqui
ezz4321: So you have problems also
jpm1234: I am not sure how long until they will be fixed
jpm1234: I do not know the nature of the problem yet
So far so good - now, I need to watch the abreviations ...
jpm1234: (but [IM] works here, so something must be specific to e-mail)
ezz4321: well is good to know that we are alone with this situation
ezz4321: excusme I try to say we are not alone
jpm1234: (i understand) also - sorry - when I type "y" in IM, I mean "yes", not "and"
jpm1234: I will have to learn to IM en Espanol (ha ha ha)
At which point, I had to stop and call up "ezz", so we could discuss what I was trying to type, and how to abbrev similarly en Espanol
ezz4321: ok JA JA JA (in spanish)
ezz4321: Hasta la vista
So here's an idea for you hackers out there - how about a plugin for Trillian that calls out to Babelfish and translates for you? A quick google search shows others have asked, and that this may already be in the works.