The Effects of Texting on Literary

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Running Head: TXTNG – NME or NBD?


The Effects of Texting on Literacy

Sara Gwin

February 26, 2011

MTE/538 ▪ Dr. Robert Schweizer

"IYO TXTNG = NME or NBD?" Translation: "In your opinion, is text messaging the enemy or no big deal?" As more and more students immerse themselves in a new language that they use over their cell phones and Blackberries, educators worry that their writing skills are suffering (Ring, 2006). But other educators see little evidence that the language of texting is having a negative impact on students' school-work. Is the prevalence of text messaging something to worry about? Should educators fear the use of texting in their classrooms? WDYT? For you old-timers, that means: what do you think? This paper will discuss the negative aspects associated with text messaging or texting as it is commonly known, the scope of this practice in current schools, and how this seemingly negative phenomenon can be used in a positive manner. Texting, a Modern Scourge?

Texting refers to the use of abbreviations and other techniques to craft short-messaging service (SMS) and instant messages. Texting does not always follow the standard rules of English grammar, nor usual word spellings. Short-message format routinely sacrifices grammar, syntax, and punctuation for the sake of slang and brevity (Baggott, 2006). According to Vosloo (2009), texting is so pervasive that some regard it as an emerging language in its own right. This is largely due to the proliferation of mobile phones as well as internet-based instant messaging (IM). As a result of their electronic chatting, kids are making countless syntax, subject/verb agreement errors and spelling mistakes in writing assignments (Ross, 2007). There is concern that students who frequently express

themselves in abbreviations and smiley faces may lose the capacity for more nuanced, grammatically correct writing. The term “textspeak” was coined in 2008 by David Crystal, an honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales (ELT Journal). Some worry that as textspeak drops consonants, vowels and punctuation and makes no distinction between letters and numbers, people will no longer know how we're really supposed to communicate. Will text messaging produce generations of illiterates? Could this—OMG—be the death of the English language? Those raising the alarm aren't linguists. Many are teachers, including myself, who have had to red-pen some ridiculous practices in high-school and college writings ( When I initially observed this trend while teaching at Remington College from 2006 – 2010 as a full-time general education instructor, I did not fully understand the implications of seeing “b/c” and “u” and “c” in my students’ writing. I thought my particular students were simply lazy. It was later that I began to understand how technology had once again infiltrated the educational setting as Gen X and Gen Y students demonstrated their comfort and ease with technology. Text messaging or Short Messaging Service (SMS) can send up to 160 characters or fewer; this is one of the major reasons tweens¸ teens and other heavy text-users have learned to abbreviate words when texting. Space is limited. However, newer phones can hold up to 20 pages of 160 characters. Text messaging is the cell phone phenomenon that is changing the way people communicate. T-Mobile sales representative in El Paso, XTNG = NME or NBD?

Chris Yakubovsky, reports that well over 60 percent of all the company’s cell phone communication is now being done via text messaging (Marquez, 2007). Cell phones are not being sold in the traditional form with number keypads. They are now being built with “QWERTY” type keyboards, thus making it easier for fingers to text away at a moment’s notice. In...
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