With the increased use of new technologies such as laptop computers, tablets, and mobile phones, the texteselanguage (also known as txt-speak, chatspeak, txtspk, texting language, SMSish, txtslang, txt-talk, and others) has become very popular, but media and scholars have voiced their concern about the English language being overwhelmed by SMS (Short Message Service) language.
– The changes we see taking place today in the language will be a prelude to the dying use of good English (Sun, April 24, 2001)
– Appalled teachers are now presented with essays written not in standard English but in the compressed, minimalist language of mobile phone text messaging (Scotsman, March 4, 2003)
– The English language is being beaten up, civilization is in danger of crumbling (Observer, March 7, 2004)
– Texting is penmanship for illiterates (Sunday Telegraph, July 11, 2004)
NOTE: The word texting was officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as of June 15, 2006. However, it’s still unrecognized by most spell checkers.
It’s a well-known fact that language is in a constant state of evolution. The question is whether texting language should be considered a language change or a language decline. There are quite contrary opinions about it.
Teachers are usually intolerant of texting language. They claim using symbols and/or abbreviated words or sentences in order to save space and time distorts the students’ ability to express themselves eloquently through writing, and it distorts their ability to use words appropriately in context. There have been many reports about poor punctuation, bad grammar and inappropriate abbreviations in exams and papers. Students sometimes do not realize they are using chatspeak in their academic writing.
Baroness Greenfield, the neuroscientist, is worried that sending text messages may cause young people to have shorter attention spans. (The Telegraph, Aug 12, 2009)
On the bright side, there have been studies with surprisingly unexpected conclusions:
A 2006 study by two professors at Coventry University in Britain found that 11-year-olds who used the most textisms were actually better at spelling and writing. A command of texting seems to indicate a broader facility for language. And these students seem to switch easily between text messaging and Standard English. (The New York Sun, January 23, 2008)
Besides, some educators think that whatever can get students to write is a positive influence. Indeed, the internet and texting have made writing return to importance. Modern teenagers spend hours every day tapping out thousands of words. The generation of the 70s and 80s would spend hours on the telephone, instead.
A neutral view?
Some people believe texting has no effect on Standard English whatsoever. They compare textese to some sort of modern jargon. Since every generation has its own jargon, and English grammar is still changing, the influence of chatspeak on English grammar should not be exaggerated. It’s just a temporary phenomenon that will either fade (unlikely) or develop into a new language used primarily in electronic communication among those who can “decode” the abbreviations. Learning another language doesn’t influence anyone’s ability to use proper English as long as students have learnt the grammar rules and therefore know the difference between slang and correct English. Whether it is regarded as a separate language or not, chatspeak can never be considered literate.
Can you understand the following sentence? “AAR8, my Ps wr 🙂 – they sdICBW,&tht they wr ha-p 4 the pc&qt.” The “translation” can be found in the end of this article.
Incidentally, speaking and writing correctly in daily communication is not as difficult as it may seem. You only need to know about 2 000 different words.
Examples of texting English:
b4 – before
bc – because
10q – thank you
bk – back
d8 – date
w8 – wait
ez – easy
l8tr – later
2l8 – too late
qt – cutie
a3 – anyplace, anytime, anywhere
asap – as soon as possible
laff – laugh
bau – business as usual
brb – I’ll be right back
btw – by the way
fyi – for your information
cwof – complete waste of time
hand – have a nice day
ltns – long time no see
urok – you are okay
2m2h – too much to handle
2mi, tmi – too much information
yoyo – you’re on your own
@wrk all wk – at work all weekend
k – OK
[email protected] – look at this
pos – parent(s) over shoulder
gnblfy – got nothing but love for you
AAAAA – American Association Against Acronym Abuse
What are your own thoughts about texting English? How often do you use it?
Answer for the chatspeak sentence:
“AAR8, my Ps wr 🙂 – they sdICBW,&tht they wr ha-p 4 the pc&qt” means “At any rate, my parents were happy, they said it could be worse and that they were happy with the peace and quiet.”