|Posted on February 26, 2014 at 12:00 AM|
Written by Joe Beadle
It’s no ‘LOL’ matter. It has been proven that tween texting may eventually lead to poor grammar skills. Text messaging in a modern day and age offers children, teenagers and even adults a quick way to send notes to friends and family. We often use shortcuts, such as homophones, omissions of non-essential letters and initials and numbers to simulate phonics, called techspeak: for example, ‘you’ becomes ‘u,’ and ‘great’ becomes ‘gr8.’ In many ways, this is an advantage: after all, the point of the message is to get something across, not making sure you have commas around your relative clause, or only using one exclamation mark! However, some researchers find this worrying. Drew Cingel, from ‘Penn State Live’, finds that there is much evidence that a decline in grammar scores are based on the number of adaptations in sent text messages. In other words, the more one gets into the habit of using text abbreviations, the more one’s grammar skills may suffer. Another study found that both sending and receiving text adaptations were associated with poor grammar test performance. Research also found that even parents could damage their children’s grammar, as they may begin to imitate their children. In addition, it has been proven that these adaptations could affect off-line language skills, which are essential to language development.
People, especially tweens, who use techspeak may be more likely to perform poorly on a grammar test. According to a report published in 2012, university students were given a grammar test of Year 9 standard, which they had all covered and understood. Therefore, it could be concluded that pupils whose scores were much lower than expected are frequent texters, and were being affected by using messaging abbreviations. When this test took place, the researchers also gave out a survey that asked students to detail their texting habits, such as how many texts they send and receive, as well as their opinion on the importance of texting. The participants were also asked to note the number of adaptations in their last three sent and received text messages. 542 surveys were distributed; students completed and returned 228, or 42.1%. The researchers could conclude that there was sufficient evidence of a decline in grammar ability based on the number of adaptations in sent and received text messages. On the contrary, typical punctuation and sentence structure, such as avoiding capital letters and not using capital letters at the beginning of sentences, did not seem to affect their ability to use correct capitalisation and punctuation.
Many of the researchers also believe that the technology, such as mobile phones that have small screens and keyboards, influences the use of language shortcuts. Similarly, the limits that texts and tweets impose on the length of a message also encourage us to abbreviate. They say that there is no question that technology is allowing more self-expression, as well as different forms of phraseology. Cultures that built around new technology can also lead to compromises of expression and these restrictions become the norm. One researcher thinks that this situation is nearly becoming out-of-control, as he had to phone up one of the members of his family to ask what their text meant, because he found the techspeak incomprehensible.
In conclusion, the frequent use of techspeak is worrying, as it has been found that pupils’ grammar is not as good as it should be. In addition, text messaging can affect a person’s social and writing skills, and may even cause financial hardship. I feel that those that use techspeak need to consider whether they should break out of this habit. Yes, of course, it is quicker and generally more efficient (apart from when the reader can not comprehend what you are trying to say!) but if it is going to affect our language development, then should we come up with a different solution?