THE IMPACT OF SHORT MESSAGE SERVICE (SMS) LANGUAGE ON LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY OF LEARNERS AND THE SMS DICTIONARIES: A CHALLENGE FOR EDUCATORS AND LEXICOGRAPHERS Mampa Lorna Mphahlele
Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, Soshanguve Campus, Pretoria
Sesotho sa Leboa Lexicography Unit, University of Limpopo, Polokwane
ABSTRACT The language is achieving new colours and tones in the world in which we live. Technology has become the buzzword in communication circles. The requirements in language versatility, which are universally understood, are overcome by the new short message service (SMS) language that is emerging rapidly. The cellphones that are conveniently used for social communication and in business transactions are invaluably helpful but can equally be extremely detrimental to the learning and development process of learners of other languages especially foreign language learning. The short message service (SMS) language that is used by cellphone users and the advertising industry has also been discovered to be abundantly used by the learners in their written work. This discovery has prompted one to investigate the impact of this prevalent use, for it is believed that the SMS language is influencing the language proficiency of learners in a negative way. The purpose of this paper is to explicate how the SMS language affects the language proficiency of learners, and the role dictionaries can play in the improvement of learners’ language proficiency. KEYWORDS
Language, Technology, Cellphone, Short Message Service (Sms), Sms Language, Language Proficiency, Communication, Dictionary, Lexicographers, Learners, Educators, Advertising, Metalexicography
Technology plays a very important role in communication today. The cellphone is one of the most effective, convenient and widely used technological instruments used for communication globally. It uses a communication facility known as the short message service (SMS) which is relatively cheaper both in terms of time and money spent during the process of communication. One uses fewer and shorter words compared to direct communication over the cellphone. Notwithstanding the myriad benefits provided by the SMS in enhancing communication and improving global business generally, the SMS has been found to be of detrimental effect on the language proficiency of learners. Learners use it as if it is an officially accepted and standard language. They mix it with the standard language they learn at school, especially the English language and consequently commit numerous errors ranging from incorrect spelling to ungrammatical sentence constructions. The aim of this paper is firstly, to show how the SMS influences the learners’ English language proficiency. Secondly, to highlight the challenge the SMS language is posing to both educators in their
ISBN: 972-8939-02-7 © 2005 IADIS
endeavour to help learners master the English language, and the lexicographers, of the need to develop an SMS dictionary. Evidence of the influence of the SMS language on learners’ language proficiency especially in English is realised in the learners’ official written work such as tests, assignments and reports. The use of this SMS language affects the learners’ performance since it does not observe grammatical and syntactic rules of a standard English language. It is neither an official nor a standard language. An example from a test script of a tertiary learner registered for a module in Communication reads: ”if we do get the money how shud it be used?” The learner used ‘SHUD’ instead of ‘SHOULD’. The pronunciation of these two words is the same, and it is advantageous to use the first spelling from an SMS message, because it saves space and time. It is even simpler to write because it is spelled like it is spoken. This simplified spelling would also affect words like...