Many people have requested my commiseration on the issue of texting (text messaging) and the demise of the English language. Isn’t it horrible, they say, how this new form of writing where “hmwrk” means “homework,” “4wrd” means “forward” and “2mro” passes for “tomorrow” has destroyed the ability of our youth to spell properly?
Well, at least one study of pre-high school students in Great Britain, as reported by the BBC, has shown that using texting lingo and chat abbreviations is not a problem for the future integrity of the English language, and that it might actually help students learn to spell properly. After all, it takes some actual thought to spell “4wrd” in this creative way and to understand why it can be spelled this way at all. Rather than blindly copy words letter for letter without thinking, students must understand why they are spelling words the way they are spelling them.
I personally love the abbreviations and language of texting. It’s a language all 2 itself. And it’s nearly impossible to make a spelling or grammatical error, so I get a rest from my otherwise constant grammatical vigilance. Perhaps the best part is that texting makes writing fun! (NB: “fun” is a noun, not an adjective, in that sentence.)
I have no difficulty switching from txtng one moment to writing in full English sentences the next. If as I suggested, txt-speak is its own language, why would young people, who learn languages with so much more ease than do their adult counterparts, have any more difficulty than I do in becoming “bilingual” in text message shorthand and formal English?
I’m pleased that my opinions on this subject are not wholly unsupported. The aforementioned BBC News article reported “rather than damaging reading and writing, ‘text speak’ is associated with strong literacy skills.” In fact, the more fluency a student had with informal “text-speak,” the more skills that student was found to develop in formal English writing.
This report was an interim installment and further information will be released in 2011. 4 now, however, I am encouraged and will continue to txt away. U might want 2 encourage ur kids 2 do it 2.
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