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Like OMG!!! Texting Isn’t Ruining Grammar

By Magdeline Lum

The use of text slang does not correlate with bad grammar and spelling in young people.

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The use of non-standard English in text messaging – such as “to” or “too” written as “2”, or “people” written as “ppl” – is considered a risk that alternative spellings will creep into formal writing, but new research is showing the opposite. In fact, texting is associated with better literacy skills.

Researchers at Coventry University in the United Kingdom examined the text messages of 243 participants from primary school, high school and university, and analysed them for violations of standard English grammar. There were three most common types of violation:

  • omission of capitalisation and punctuation (hi how are you);
  • omission of words common in casual speech but not standard writing (am going out now. want to come?); and
  • unconventional punctuation like using multiple punctuation mark, (!!!??), kisses (xxx), initialisms (lol) and using emoticons (☺).

To a lesser extent, word-level grammatical violations were present and included deliberate violations such as “is you” and “does they”.

The participants were also set grammatical tasks to complete to assess their formal grammatical and spelling skills. Overall there was no evidence that the use of grammatical violations in text messages is indicative of poor spelling skills in primary school. Instead, the results suggested that the ungrammatical word forms and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.