When using text language or ‘textisms’ children revert to a phonetic language, which it has been suggested may have a negative effect on literacy (Ihnatko, 1997), but equally, may not affect spelling (Dixon and Kaminska, 2007). However, there has been little research in the area (Wartella, Caplovitz and Lee, 2004). Werry (1996) discussed children's invented spellings and described these as often based on pronunciation of spoken language. These included misspellings based on local dialect pronunciations. Many of these showed similarity to text abbreviations, many of which seem to be based phonetically. The point was made, however, that intentional ‘misspelling’ is quite a different phenomenon from young children's accidental inaccuracies, but phonological awareness appears to be at the root of both variants on standard English words.
Types of textism vary, and include acronyms and symbols as well as rebus abbreviations and other phonetically based variants. Texting has features that correspond to spoken language, in its dialogic character, with several conversational ‘turns’ sometimes being recorded, but these messages also make use of grammatical omissions that are rarely observed in spoken language (A. F. Gupta, personal communication, November 2005) and so cannot be said to be truly a written form of spoken language. Another characteristic that sets texting apart from spoken language is the phenomenon of hyperpersonal communication (Walther, 1996), wherein texting allows management of impression and message to a greater extent than real-time conversation or Instant Messaging (IM) (Reid and Reid, 2004, 2005), while still allowing dialogic exchange in a relative short time span.
Crystal (2006a, pp. 45, 47) lays out in tabular form how the language typically used in various forms of computer-mediated communication is both like and unlike spoken and written language. Beacause Crystal does not include text messaging as an independent genre in his tables, we...
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