Chintan PatelMr. PaizENGL 106
The Impact of Text Messaging on Language skills and Standard English
The English language as you may know is evolving since the beginning, one read of Beowulf or The Canterbury Tales is enough to be reminded of how far removed we are from the language of our ancestors. Texting is the next step in evolution of English language so we should be cautious about it. There are two main arguments about text messaging. One is that text messaging is impacting the English language by impacting teenager’s ability to write English using proper punctuation and spelling. The opposing position is, of course, that it does not impact English language and in some way might actually enhance it. Perhaps as we document and collect works of writers and leaders, texts will be abbreviation rich. Future generations would have to study and analyze those abbreviations to understand them. It is accurate to say that the use of texting impacts teenager’s language skills which in turn can impact our English language. Some researchers have begun exploring how text messaging affects student’s language skills and surprisingly, they find a positive correlation. One study done by the professor Clare Wood at Coventry University in Britain found that 11-year-olds who used the most textism (texting language) were actually better at spelling and writing. A command of texting seems to indicate a broader facility for language, and these students seem to switch easily between text messaging and Standard English. Not only that, the study also showed that children who regularly texted showcased a richer vocabulary and gain creativity. She believes that it’s all misconceptions that text messages are all made up of abbreviated words (Wood, Plester & Joshi, 2009). However, this is one of the misconceptions. Professor Clare Wood thinks that texting has a positive impact on teenager’s language skills, but these seem a bit extreme. Some studies find this to be the opposite. Drew Cingle and S. Shyam Sundar conducted research at Penn State University. Both authors argued that the student’s who write in techspeak used shorthand phrases to compose a text message. They thought that writing in techspeak would prevent person’s ability to go from techspeak to normal rules of grammar. Based on their data from over 500 students from middle school, they concluded that ” our data supports that there is a decline in grammar scores.” Cingle gives reader personal example from his two younger nieces. He indicates that their text messages were ” incomprehensible and that he had ask them what they were trying to get out of that message. ” The message was incomprehensible because the use of shorthand phrases,” he said (Cingle & Sundar). I agree with Professor Clare on how texting develops creativity through the use of shortcuts. However, Clare Wood has to realize that teenagers are actually making their own language through texting and that language is different from English. Shortcuts used are not that easy to understand as Clare thinks. Even Cingle mentions that he couldn’t read his niece’s text. And not only that, Sundar and Cingle’s study proves that texting could also impact grammar. It is true that not everyone can be affected; some can even benefit from it. However, this is something that should be taken into considerations. Since more and more teenagers are starting to use shortcuts. Another research done by Joan Lee undermines Clare Wood’s research. Joan Lee did study to find the impact of texting on language skills. Based on her data, her results proved that the students who texted more were less likely to incorporate new vocabulary. Her results also proved that students who read newspaper or media were likely to gain more vocabulary. ” Our assumption about texting is that it encourages unconstrained language,” Lee argues, ” but the study found this to be a myth.” Lee argues that reading print media exposes people to variety and creativity in language that is not found in text messaging used among youth (Lee). Study done by professor Clare Wood provided some good evidence on vocabulary. I agree with her on how students can gain vocabulary by texting. However, the professor didn’t realize that the vocabulary expands upon first using communication device due to some unique words used in texting. However, the vocabulary size levels off as the person knows most of the words that are unique to texting. After that, the person will use same group of vocabulary over and over again. If the Wood did his study many times then the result could have been the opposite. Since the teenager’s vocabulary isn’t expanding, this means that more words are going extinct and fewer words are being added to our language. Even Cingle and Joan Lee’s studies hold some limitations. Since the study was done on small population, the results are not generalizable. However, both researches lay the groundwork for future studies. One thing can be certain for sure and that is texting does impact student’s language skills to a small extent.” Texting language is no different from other innovative forms of written expression that have emerged in the past” (Crystal). Some linguists are optimistic about the use of texting. ” Despite doom-laden prophecies, texting has not been the disaster language many feared,” argues linguistics Professor David Crystal. On the contrast, it improves children’s writing and spelling. In his book he mentions that students know when to switch from texting to writing an essay for class. He believes that text messages are not made up of abbreviated words (Crystals). Txting is an informative book that really explains the history of abbreviations and acronyms. David Crystal points out a lot of such abbreviations that we tend to take for granted. However, I disagree with some of his opinions that texting is really not a problem. He doesn’t go into any detail about how obsessive people can get when it comes to texting. Dr. Greenfield, a psychologist and expert on technology addiction, mentions in his book ” Virtual Addiction” that texting is a form of addiction. Every text is novel and changeable and it is this novelty and unpredictability that creates the pleasurable dopaminehit that chemically locks in the reinforcement. The fact that you cannot predict what and when you will get a desirable text creates addictive reinforcement experience, and it is this phenomenon that seems to help lock-in a compulsive pattern of text use. Therefore, addition leads to the decrease in performance (Greenfield). Again, the book Txing is mostly a critique on language and how it is affected by texting, but to think that texting is not problematic is a bit naive. David Crystal sees texting as whimsical and creative, but he must acknowledge the social and emotional implications as well. Addiction also plays role. Addiction leads to the downfall of language skills not just by limited use of texting but in order for texting to impact teenagers, teenagers have to text almost every day until it becomes their habit. Those abbreviations become their habit and teens will start using it everywhere, where it’s not needed. Those abbreviations are then slowly incorporated into their everyday language. ” It is hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it” (Hensley). The texting language is slowly pouring into English language. Language is evolving; however the consequences could be unpredictable. Caution should be taken regarding texting. What would you do if you opened up a book to see nothing but chat speak? Personally, I would be terrified. In response to this new generation of language, the latest update of the Oxford Dictionaries Online has published new additions of words, definitions and abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of expressions (made popular through their frequent use in text messaging, an other forms of technological communications such as in social-networking sites and emails) such as OMG and LOL. These new internet and text inspired expressions are now legitimately margining into our English language, which demonstrates how much texting has impact our language. And not only that, when I write essays, I often write r u instead of Are you. So the texting messaging is also impacting language skills. Everything boils down to language. Every abbreviation that teenagers use is impacting our English language. Literature is likely to become as abbreviated as teenagers’ attention span. http://awilli10. files. wordpress. com/2012/09/net-lingo. jpgThe arguments from both sides’ are very strong. Linguistic David Crystal argues very effectively to tell readers that texting does not affect language. However, his results were mostly based on interviews which are not reliable because since the interview questions tend to seek opinions. Instead research should be conducted to find the accurate results. Joan Lee and Sundar point out some interesting points regarding texting and language skills. Based on their results, one thing is certain for sure, and that is that text messaging has had an impact on Standard English and on people’s language skills, slight or great. It is the addiction that makes texting a habit for teenagers. Text speak will seem normal in 50 years’ time. Perhaps there will be a 21st-century edition of Shakespeare’s collected works featuring ” 2B/not 2B” and the Oxford English Dictionary will define ” 2thless” and ” 1derment”. Some students seem to have difficulties keeping the language of text messaging separate from the Standard English, and whether Standard English will change as a result of this remains to be seen.