Fear That Txting Is Destroying Writing Resurfaces

from the thought-this-was-done dept

Four or five years ago it was popular among educators to worry about how the rise of instant messaging and SMS was going to harm students’ ability to write proper English. However, over the past few years those fears have subsided as studies have shown that students are usually smart enough to know what’s appropriate in what situation and even that text messaging can boost writing skills by offering students a greater opportunity to make use of written language. Apparently no one told Irish educators, however. There’s a story out today about how the Irish State Examination Commission is worried about exam performance of students and are blaming the problems on the rise of txting. What may be interesting here is that the report doesn’t seem to condemn the use of traditional “txt” language within the context of traditional writing (suggesting kids still understand the difference concerning what’s appropriate at what time), but that students have changed their writing style to make it “unduly reliant on short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary.” Of course, there could be a variety of reasons for this that have nothing to do with text messaging — including the specific education program used to train these students. However, if the problem is that the language has been simplified, it seems like the solution can again be found in better educating students how to use the language properly, rather than worrying about kids spending too much time sending messages on their phones.

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Comments on “Fear That Txting Is Destroying Writing Resurfaces”

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Anonymous Coward says:

There are a few example essays that some of my lecturers show students here (with the names removed, of course) that are littered with examples of txt spk. Things like “gr8”, “4” instead of “for” and “2” instead of “to” or “too” etc…

And this is a university. So it’s affected at least some people. I guess when it’s late, you’re writing an essay (or anything that involves writing, like a report of some kind for your boss) and it’s due in tomorrow, you get tired and slip in a few examples without noticing. If you’re that used to using them, at least.

Charles Griswold (user link) says:


Y r u a hater LOL! f u cn rd ths thn wats th prblm. jst bcuz u thnk i hav 2 rite lik u? y shud i hav 2 rite mor jst so u cn red ezer?! LOL!!

I don’t know what’s scarier, that you can write like that or that I can actually decipher it. I think I need to read some Asimov just to wash my brain out after reading that.

btw u shd hav ritn h8r not hater lol


Daniel (profile) says:

speedtalk - not newspeak

You are using the wrong analogy. Txting is not Orwell’s Newspeak, which was supposedly developed to eliminate words and restrict thought. Txting, on the other hand is a shorthand language designed to improve the efficiency of the language – much as speedtalk was designed for in Heinlein’s story “Gulf.”

The ultimate purpose of Speedtalk is, of course, to make one’s ability to think faster and more efficient.

Oh, and the problem with the concept of newspeak is that there are real world languages that work EXACTLY like newspeak, but are still just as expressive as any language in existence. See Wikipedia’s entry here for more on that:

freak3dot says:


What is the big deal? If someone has a problem with using text speak in reports. Just teach M$ Word that gr8 means great. Set it up to automatically replace it. And if you don’t I am betting that M$ will figure it out and do it eventually anyways.

Then when you are up late and can’t tell the difference, your software will.


ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:


Amateur radio operators using Morse code have done…

The difference being the medium. I have no problem with people using ham radio abbreviations when they’re in contact with each other via Morse code. It takes a lot of time and effort to spell things out that way. Likewise, SMS is limited to 160 characters per message. Even police 10-nn codes, which were designed to be both short to keep radio time down, and unambiguous.

There’s simply no excuse to write like that in IRC, in forums, in E-Mail, in papers… none. The additional time it takes even for a hunt-and-pecker is minimal and there’s no charge for the use of the additional letters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course, most academic writing could be greatly improved by greater reliance on “short sentences, simple tenses and a limited vocabulary.”

Not to mention legal writing (IAAL). After I do the first draft of something, the first thing I do is go through it and look for sentences I can split into two simpler sentences. The improvement that results is amazing.

Shun says:

Text is not destroying our writing skills

The problem is not that kids have easy access to out-of-control text messaging. By “control” I mean they are not being graded on their performance, except by their peers.

The true problem is education : U.S. kids don’t read enough books, and are not encouraged to write legibly. As long as you can fill out forms and answer simple questions, your brain is as good as the next one. We only want you for your labor, anyhow.

I tend to write the way I read. If I’m reading a good book by a decent author, I pick up some of the idioms and style. OK, I don’t pick up a lot, but I think it marginally improves my ability to communicate (that’s for you to judge).

The problem is not textspeak; it is the horrible state of our schools. Kids don’t learn — kids can’t express themselves intelligently. Hmm…seems to be an obvious connection here.

Shun says:

Oops, didn't realize the subject was Irish schools

Well, my previous comments still apply, but are probably irrelevant, at least to the subject at hand.

But seriously, Ireland?

The land of James Joyce and William Yeats is having a problem with kids turning in poorly written essays?

How about forcing students to read the work of your most renowned poets and essayists?

|333173|3|_||3 says:

I wager that the students who turned in papers containing txtspk were those (supposedly) studying for a B.Ark. (N.B., this is nt a typographical error).

I know that my style of writing is influenced by my recent reading matter, and can vary between the style of Sir Humphrey Appleby (Yes Minister), highly poetical and somewhat fatuous, a continual stream of cliches (a la Sir Desmond Glasebrook, this being a sin comitted more often when speaking than writing), or a terse, telgraphic style, which is what commonly appears after I have written something in one of the previous styles and found it to be excessively long. However, the quality of spelling (atrocious without a spelling checker), and the pedantry of my writing, are both failry consistent across all styles of writng and modes of communication.

Those who use OO.org have the advantage of auto-complete, which those who wish to save on typing may well find worthwhile, assuming that they use a WYSIAYGEIYRRLAAGW* system for document preparation. Alternaltively, that could set up AutoCorrect in Word to expand thier abbreviations to the full form.

I would have assumed that the use of txtspk would be declining, since most ‘phones have PTI as well as TTI, and since the formar can often be more efficint, and less ambiguous, for short messages it is preferable.

The use of AOLese is a sign of inferior intellect, except when used in a insulting manner (such as in response to a moronic question on forums), and clearly indicated by sich constucts as “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111!!!!!!!!!!!eleventy-one!!!”, “OMGWTFNOBBQ”. I would also not include such abbrevialtions a s “FFS, RTFAPI”, whcih frequently appears on the level 1 forums at my university’s CS school, along with other such comments as “@#1, FFS Ref OP” when an idiot answers thier own question in thier post, although none of these should appear in a paper, or even a tutorial respnse.

The key is to recognise what is appropriate to the sitution. If you cannot do that, you deserve to loose a significant number of marks.

*What You See Is All You Get Even If You’re Really, Really, Lucky And All Goes Well. Examples of such programs include M$

Neha Bhatia (user link) says:

SMS is destroying our language abilities.

I truely agree that SMS is destroying our language abilities .When we use short forms of the words while writing SMS in hurry it then becomes our habit to use them while writing a letter to an higher authority which is directly related to language.That is why I agree that SMS is really destroying our language abilities.

Neha Bhatia (user link) says:

SMS is destroying our language abilities.

I truely agree that SMS is destroying our language abilities .When we use short forms of the words while writing SMS in hurry it then becomes our habit to use them while writing a letter to an higher authority which is directly related to language.That is why I agree that SMS is really destroying our language abilities.

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