This paper reports on the results of a large-scale questionnaire survey, conducted in 2003, of message sending habits of Hungarian SMS writers and the linguistic peculiarities of SMSes themselves. The paper reveals that short text-containing messages constitute a favourite genre of communication mainly for young people, and especially for teenagers. The author discusses general (language-independent) characteristics of SMSes that are due to the technology of sending messages and to the function of SMSes. Thus, the writers strive for brevity and compactness, often use emoticons, and not infrequently ignore the rules of orthography. This genre of written communication exhibits creative linguistic solutions and patterns normally characteristic of spoken utterances. The function of abbreviations, the two main types of their origin, and the subjects' use of punctuation marks and other symbols is discussed in detail.