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Txtng is gd 4 lrng

July 6th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Don’t miss this brilliant review – curiously filed by the Guardian newspaper under ‘Reference’ – by  linguistics Professor David Crystal on texting. David tells how langauge has always been changing and how the use of various forms of abbrieviations is not new.

“There are several distinctive features of the way texts are written that combine to give the impression of novelty, but none of them is, in fact, linguistically novel” he says. “Many of them were being used in chatroom interactions that predated the arrival of mobile phones. Some can be found in pre-computer informal writing, dating back a hundred years or more.”

He goes on to say that: “Although many texters enjoy breaking linguistic rules, they also know they need to be understood.”

He concludes: “An extraordinary number of doom-laden prophecies have been made about the supposed linguistic evils unleashed by texting. Sadly, its creative potential has been virtually ignored. But five years of research has at last begun to dispel the myths. The most important finding is that texting does not erode children’s ability to read and write. On the contrary, literacy improves. The latest studies (from a team at Coventry University) have found strong positive links between the use of text language and the skills underlying success in standard English in pre-teenage children. The more abbreviations in their messages, the higher they scored on tests of reading and vocabulary. The children who were better at spelling and writing used the most textisms. And the younger they received their first phone, the higher their scores.

Children could not be good at texting if they had not already developed considerable literacy awareness. Before you can write and play with abbreviated forms, you need to have a sense of how the sounds of your language relate to the letters. You need to know that there are such things as alternative spellings. If you are aware that your texting behaviour is different, you must have already intuited that there is such a thing as a standard. If you are using such abbreviations as lol and brb (“be right back”), you must have developed a sensitivity to the communicative needs of your textees.”

3 Responses to “Txtng is gd 4 lrng”

  1. It’s funny how things become a theme because I have only just read another blog post that brought this whole subject home to me ie there is nothing new under the sun.

    I hate to confess that I adore trashy historical novels and I was cruising around the blog of a romance author, Maya Rodale and she was writing about a museum she had visited in Kensington Palace: http://mayarodale.com/blog/?p=27. There she saw an exhibition about the debutantes of the British upper class. They used some wonderful abbreviations such as:
    FU: Financially Unsound
    MTF: Must Touch Flesh (They did not explain why one used this phrase. Any ideas?)
    NSIT: Not Safe In Taxis. (This, of course, referred to certain “gentlemen.”)
    VVSITPQ: Very Very Safe In Taxis Probably Queer!

    I love them!

  2. Cristina says:

    Amazing!

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