Txt 4 u

Sending SMS (‘short message service’) messages on mobile phones is one of the communications phenomena of our day. The chances are that, since you last checked out this blog, some 3 billion text messages will have been sent and received across the world. And let us be frank, many of them will have been pretty annoying. I have no problem with texting per se – I do so myself, and keep in touch with some friends that way – but the shorthand used by many people is, I fear, doing terrible things to their capacity to express themselves in an articulate way in writing. As texts are restricted to 160 characters, people got creative about how to cram more information into that space. And so we had the dawn of the age of the txt; succinct messaging, just 4 u.

People sometimes suggest to me that my complaint is just part of the nostalgia that comes with growing older – that Shakespeare would have been horrified if he had been able to read Jane Austen and would have found her style to be lamentable – and that therefore texting is nothing other than the new mode of communication and that we should be making the best of it. I don’t think so. I don’t look forward to billions of Chinese learning to use txt English and for it to become the lingua franca of the world.

But then again, maybe I am just getting old… Or possibly even 2 old. That would not be so gr8.

Explore posts in the same categories: culture, technology

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

11 Comments on “Txt 4 u”

  1. whatsaysyou Says:

    We have now entered the txt and digital era and yes, texting is part of our lives right now.


  2. then again, swype technology makes it pretty easy to write full words. i tend to text small novels though. such is life.

  3. Vincent Says:

    Yes, it’s difficult to get too precious. When the prefix and suffix of most Latin words was abbreviated on manuscripts for exactly the same reasons, expense.

  4. anna notaro Says:

    What strikes me about the 19 year old history of Short Message Service (SMS) – which originated from radio telegraphy – is that no one had imagined that this add-on feature initially targeted to business people would quickly become mainstream thanks to teen agers (the history of rock and roll should have taught us something!) In other words, the creative, unforseen use of technology is something that should make us reflect not only for its obvious commercial value – Steve Jobs was universally praised was his capacity to provide customers with technological innovations even before they knew they wanted them – but also for the impact that the active/creative interaction (rather than the passive ‘user’ only) with technology has on shaping the future of that same technological innovation and in bringing about the participatory culture we live in. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participatory_culture).
    Over the past few years highly publicized reports have described how the use of text language in school assignments is causing a decline in the quality of written communication, however research from linguistic experts has refuted the notion that text language is harmful. Renowed linguist David Crystal makes the point that English language (or any language for that matter) should be promoted ‘as a living, egalitarian medium, rather than as a relic to be preserved and revered’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/sep/16/academicexperts.languages)
    ‘Nothing stays the same’ as the previous post on PhDs aptly reminded us, so why should language?
    Educational concerns with regards to texting are of course worth addressing, however in my view they should only act as a stimulus for educators to train students (no matter the nationality) in understanding the most appropriate use of the language in relation to context (what in linguistic is called ‘language registers’, i.e. a variety of a language used for a particular purpose or in a particular social setting).
    It is not uncommon at a time of fast technological innovation and change to look nostalgically at the past (the latest Woody Allen’s movie ‘Midnight in Paris’ offers a funny and at the same time thoughtful take on such a contemporary obsession, nostalgia does NOT need to be the vice of the aged, to paraphrase Angela Carter we should stop watching too many old movies to avoid that our memories come in monochrome!
    B4N🙂

  5. Paul Donovan Says:

    “Good authors who knew once words better,
    can now only use four letter words writing prose,
    Anything goes! (Cole Porter 1934)

    Something tells me we’ve been here before.

    Paradoxically, when students leave for the world of work they quickly revert to standard English for their business communications.

  6. Vincent Says:

    Off topic totally.
    I was reminded that it’s firework month when my hound took off in the general direction of ‘away’ while out for a walk this afternoon.
    It took her three hours to come home. She will remain inside but for extra long dawn walks til well into next month.
    I thought to mention as I know you’ve have or at least had a dog and may have like I forgotten.


    • One of the good things about living in Scotland at this time of year is that we don’t have all the (illegal) fireworks going off all the time! I hope your dog gets over this particular season without too much trauma!

  7. cormac Says:

    I don’t see why it’s a problem, as long as young people see texting is seen as a form of code, different from normal spelling. I suspect that how people spell and parse is mainly determined by how much they read, not how much they text – Morse code didn’t destroy English grammar, TV did!


  8. Australian research led by Dr Nenagh Kemp at UTas seems to agree with British research that the impact of texting is not as you fear. Here’s an excerpt from coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Children who are good at quickly creating and interpreting textisms are also proficient at spelling and reading familiar and novel words.

    ”This fits with previous findings and supports the idea that the same skill set underlies the ability to manipulate the sounds and features of spoken, written and texted language. The ability to create or decipher phonetic abbreviations requires an awareness of the multiple sound-letter correspondences in English,” Dr Kemp says. ”Further, increased experience with reading and writing textese might lead to increased confidence and flexibility with manipulating language sounds, a key skill for developing reading prowess.”

    Dr Kemp believes the popularity of texting shows that language is fluid and flourishing – particularly when children play creatively with words rather than stick to standard usage. ”I started off thinking texting will be ruining their spelling but in fact it seems to do the opposite because children who are good at spelling, reading and language are also good at messing around with texting; they are better at guessing what a funny little acronym might be or better at making up a new one.

    ”It makes sense that someone who is good at language is also good at crosswords, poetry and so on … it’s another way to play with the words of language.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/textese-gr8-training-4-poets-of-2moro-20110911-1k3yc.html#ixzz1aKN4rapv

  9. Fred the Dog Says:

    txtspk is fine – unless it carries over into non-SMS activity. Is there any actual evidence that kids (or adults) take this txt speak thing beyond the phone?

  10. jfryar Says:

    I’d agree with Fred the Dog.

    I’m sitting here with about 60 reports from first year students. I’ve seen no short-hand spellings, no txt spk, no confusion over they’re, their and there, etc.

    What I have noticed is that older academics will use a very formal version of English when giving presentations at conferences, but this style of English seems to evaporate when discussing the relative merits and mistakes of postgraduate students under their supervision. The language has, at times, even lapsed into the profane!

    Perhaps the use of txt spk in the context of instant communications is no more or less concerning than the change in formality of English as used by everyone else depending on who they are talking to and who may be listening in.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: