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The Incredible Things You Can Say in 140 Characters

The plasticity of language is remarkable. It survives the onslaughts of barbarians, invasions, TV, mass tourism, and now the havoc wreaked by new technologies. Yet a true love story was begun on Twitter, most remarkably with one of those anonymous toilers who man corporate accounts. In this case, he was in charge of the Oxford Street branch of Waterstones, a British chain of bookstores. It all began four years ago, with a tweet sent by a bibliophile called Victoria: “well I’m in love with whoever is manning @WstonesOxfordSt. Be still my actual beating heart.” The tweet did not escape the attention of the anonymous cyber-worker who toiled behind the computer screen of that account, since closed, and who turned out to be Jonathan. There was a back and forth of tweets, the first of which was his confession that he was not “that dreamy in real life,” followed by a few dates, courtship and now their wedding in London. All very English, quintessentially modern and yet so old. Not only language survives the technological tyrannies of our age but love does, too. Or rather, the expressions of love, in acronyms, abbreviations and signs that this correspondent finds impenetrable. Still, they convey what matters.

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