Ever since SMS or texting became commonplace, complaints about its many adverse effects have come up. I am sure you have experienced meeting with people face to face, only to have some (many?) of them stare and fiddle with their phones the entire time. You may have even been guilty of this now and then.
There is also the issue of grammar and how it has degraded, thanks to texting. Without putting too much thought into the matter, it is easy enough to understand how texting may have contributed to poor spelling and improper grammar. After all, it can be tiresome to type on a small screen, and with the character limits, many things get left out. Punctuation is ignored, and words are shortened.
Is texting really to blame for poor grammar these days, though?
I’ve been doing some reading on this and found two very different points of view. First, I read this article by Jessica A. Johnson: “More texting = more grammar errors“.
The article’s main point is clear from the get go: people (students in this particular case) who text a lot tend to get lower scores on grammar tests. This is the finding of a study conducted by S. Shyam Sundar and Drew Cingel from the Pennsylvania State University.
On the other hand, across the ocean, another study says that spelling, grammar, and the understanding of English of students are NOT affected by sending text messages – even if they use “text speak”. The study was conducted by researchers from Coventry University.
So what’s the real deal?
I am no expert, but I think that there is more to the decline in grammar than texting. Sure, I will not discount the possibility regular text speak usage degrading grammar. However, there is also the aspect of proper support and guidance outside of texting.
Think of it this way. I might shorten words, not observe proper capitalization, and drop punctuation marks when chatting with friends about going out on a Friday night. That doesn’t mean, however, that I will not go to great lengths to ensure that I write properly when composing a letter of interest or an article for this site.
The nitpicker in me is screaming now, though. If I ever have kids, they will not use text speak if I have anything to do with it!
What are your thoughts on texting and grammar?
Image via woohoo_megoo on Flickr
Interesting post! I guess I see it as comparable to being fluent in two different dialects of a language–like with spoken English how someone might have grown up in a part of the country or a neighborhood with a non-standard dialect, and still speaks that way with friends and family, but then switches to standard English for school or work . . . in the same way, a person can (hopefully) use different “dialects” of written/typed English depending on the situation.
The sociolinguistics of texting?