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.