Newspeak behind text messaging destruction of the English language?

This is plausible:

When the very first text message was sent in 1992, no one realized the influence it would have in the worlds of business, education, security, crime and our social lives.  But within a decade of its inception, the world grasped hold of it and ran with it like an Olympian.

Text messages were only intended to be 160 characters or less and are sometimes called SMS (or Short Message Service).  When text messaging became popular, the vast majority of cell phones only came with a standard phone keyboard.  The world would have to wait until about 2001 for Palm to launch the Treo that came with a full QWERTY keyboard layout.  Because of this and the limits on characters, abbreviations became necessary.  Eventually, a set of common abbreviations became standard to ease understanding.  It sort of became its own “language”: text-speak as it’s sometimes called.

However, the abbreviations that stemmed from the popularity and widespread use of texting seemed to seep its way into all aspects of written language.  The advertising industry caught on and frequently uses the acronyms and abbreviations of text-speak to catch the attention of younger audiences.   Examples can be found in print ads and television ads from the UK to the US to Australia and points in between. 

Advertisement is one thing, but formal written language is another: the type that helps kids get the grade in school and gets them jobs and gets them into college.  Teachers are wracking their brains trying to stop kids today from using text-speak in their formal writing.  From the teacher’s point of view, it’s quite a feat to get their students to understand the difference between spoken language, informal written language and formal written language.  Even the youngest teachers today did not “grow up” with texting, unlike their students.  Even test evaluators who are hired to grade the essay portions of standardized tests often note that text-speak is occasionally slipped into formal essays.  Under normal circumstances, these words are considered misspelled words. 

While many educators and parents see texting as the demise of the English language, there are many in the younger generations that see it merely as an extension of the English language, new vocabulary so-to-speak.  Many linguists do not believe that text-speak will destroy the English language, that language has a way of evolving and reflecting on changes in society. 

In 2006, both New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Scottish Qualifications Authority have allowed text-speak to be acceptable in the end of year exams.  While they discouraged students from using it as much as possible, they have allowed it on the basis that they were encouraging students to get their ideas out and on paper.  While it may technically be allowed, or at least not counted off, many teachers and students alike fell that it is a very bad decision, citing that people judge you based on how you write. 

It does have its place, though.  Even though it may be perfectly acceptable in informal and casual writing (and texting, of course), text-speak should not be used in formal writing.  It also shouldn’t be used if you are communicating (via letter, e-mail, note) with someone in a professional manner (a professor,teacher, city services, job applications, etc.)  While it may not destroy the English language, it certainly has a few instances where it isn’t widely accepted and should be avoided.   

Will text messaging destroy the English language? – by Joyce D. Sinclair – Helium.

Categories: newspeak

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