Monday’s blog topic created a lot of comments, and I thank everyone that sent me Direct Messages through Twitter about it (Suprisingly no comments on the blog, perhaps we like our privacy too much!) – but I do agree, there are two sides to the story.

Last time, I looked at whether the use of abbreviations with SMS and IM was having an impact on the more formal use of the English Language; so in the interest of fair play I spent some time researching whether or not it has a more positive impact than I first thought. It wasn’t easy, but with dedicated commitment and perseverance I came up with some interesting information. (You see I am impartial – just!)

It is apparent that the concern about the increase use of texting is not new, and in 2008 David Crystal wrote his book ‘2b or not 2b’ in defence of the use of ‘textspeak’. I found his article in the Guardian Unlimited on line service

Interestingly, David highlighted the fact that we defenders of a more formal English have been using the abbreviated format for centuries, I didn’t realise that the term IOU (indicating a debt owed) actually dates back to 1618, and which swoony teenager of the 1960’s hasn’t written ‘SWALK’ on the back of the envelope? (‘Sealed with a loving kiss’ for you young folk)

And let’s be honest – the old Christmas riddle of “YY UR YY UB IC UR YY 4ME” sort of predates texting and SMS lingo with a vengeance.

In fact David goes further, he states:

“…all the popular beliefs about texting are wrong. Its graphic distinctiveness is not a new phenomenon, nor is its use restricted to the young. There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy.”

Nor is he alone in this belief, studies conducted at the University of Coventry and published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology have found that :

“ … children’s use of textisms is not only positively associated with word reading ability, but that it may be contributing to reading development in a way that goes beyond simple phonologically based explanations.” (hat tip to Jason Lee Miller)

So perhaps David Crystal may have a point when he claims –

There’s no evidence that texting damages writing skills; on the contrary, academic studies – as well as creative phenomena such as text poetry – indicate that texters can actually be talented writers,”

In fact I found a number of references to a more positive view of the use of ‘textese’ ‘textspeak’ or SMS language.

So, how I feel about the subject now, you may ask. Well, I am ambivalent (and put that into textese!) In my opinion, (or IMO) my research has actually thrown up far more worrying examples of the way language is being changed than it has positive ones!

But I’ll let you be the judge, why not participate in The Edutopia Poll being conducted by Sara Ring. Add your voice to the on-line poll – but be warned, some of the comments might change your mind that texting does not affect the way teenagers use formal language!

And perhaps we might ask ourselves why – if textese is so beneficial to our children’s reading and writing skills – we need sites like THIS (complete with smileys!) to translates from textese to formal English and back again!

I am sorry, but at the moment I am still dubious, but I am open to being convinced, and I am interested in your thoughts so what do you think?

Dy tnk sms lang S realy hlpng r kds blty 2 spk 4mal eng or dy tnk txtN S a nu wA 2 comnC9 W d wrld?

Michele @ Trischel
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