Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)
Texting vs. Literacy
by Madison Franklin
How many texts do you suppose you send out a day? When you are out in public, how many people do you see texting or on their phones? I am not an expert when it comes to math, but I think it is safe to say both of those answers would be greater than one hundred and possibly even greater than two hundred. Texting has become one of the quickest and easiest forms of communication in today’s society. This fact leaves many to believe that those who are avid texters are causing great injury to their own literacy.
In my grammar and linguistics course, we are reading different books and studies that discuss grammar, linguistics and everything in between. While covering Women Talk More Than Men… And Other Myths About Language Explained by Abby Kaplan, the topic of texting and whether it brings negative effects to an individual’s literacy emerged. To my surprise, this book is not the first nor the last study to discuss this issue.
In her study, Kaplan goes on to explain what exact writing style is most popular when it comes to texting. Texting is clearly an informal writing style, which could lead to texters forgetting common conventions used in standard English. Evidence may even suggest that those who lack practice with standard English and the many rules within formal writing will lack intelligence within this exact subject. One of the most common issues those who are against texting argue is abbreviations. There many abbreviations those who text use such as “lol” (laugh out loud), “omg” (oh my goodness), “smh” (shaking my head) and so on. Abbreviations are said to take away from a person’s exposure to written standard language.
On the other hand, some studies show texting may lead to positive influences within students and their individual literacy level. A study conducted by Plester, Wood and Bell (date?) showed that the more abbreviations used by children, the higher verbal reasoning scores. Students were connecting abbreviations that they had previously learned through texting to decipher verbal responses in school.
The first study was conducted in 2008. It was a study that was performed upon those who had been exposed to textisms. A textism or textese is defined as a “largely a largely sound- based or phonological, form of spelling that can reduce the time and cost of texting.” (page#?) The article goes on to explain that textisms had brought a positive impact with spelling on students. In this specific study, participants completed two spelling tests. One of these tests was given before the introduction to textisms while the final test was administered after. The results showcased that participants were not more rapid at creating English compositions than sending out text messages.
Although certain details such as abbreviations may not follow the common understanding of standard language, texting was not designed to follow the common rules of standard English, either. I believe texting was simply made for what it is – quick and easy conversation. For the most part, texting is used as a way to communicate with those you cannot communicate in person with and it leaves opportunity for the responder to reply at a time that is convenient for them or even a brief message that would make a pointless phone call. There many articles, novels and studies that investigate this exact question that leave the reader with an open mind. What are your thoughts?
Kaplan, A. (2016). Women talk more than men: –and other myths about language explained. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Plester, B., Wood, C., and Rewcastle Bell, V. (April 21, 2008) Txt msg n school literacy: does texting and knowledge of text abbreviations adversely affect children’s literacy attainment? Psychology Retrieved fromhttps://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Txt-msg-n-school-literacy:-does-texting-and-of-text-Plester-Wood/f2e99e3005beb15d90a2dd3cdaf2a0dd4e464cc6.
Madison Franklin is a sophomore at Chadron State College studying Elementary Education.
2 thoughts on “Wordplay: Texting vs. Literacy”
Madison, this was a really interesting post! I remember reading about texting and its relationship with the English language and it got me thinking about how texting affects our writing and speaking. I agree that texting is an easy and fast way to communicate with people, but I also can’t help but wonder about how much it affects our speaking and writing. I am no scientist but I occasionally find myself in conversation and almost say something in texting lingo or writing a creative paper and wanting to put texting lingo into the paper. It could just be me, but I have a feeling others may have this issue occasionally too. This obviously isn’t the end of the world, many people have added “OMG” to their everyday vocabulary and I’m sure before long other texting lingo will be added, but it also could affect how children learn language and what is correct in the English language.
I really liked this post and am glad you decided to write about this topic! I have always been one to avoid texting using abbreviations or shortening words simply because I am anal about grammar and it bothers me when I see words changed like that. Even with those feelings, I have caught myself in the past saying “LOL” out loud when someone had said something that I found funny or amusing. I stopped myself and actually couldn’t believe that I had said it! I can see how this could affect children and the way they learn language, especially with the rising popularity of technology, as well as the age at which children are receiving their first phones getting younger and younger. It seems that the youth is more worried about how they text than how they write an essay!