Are You still writing well? Or R U still writing well?

text speak 1Yes, the title might be confusing, but for some people there are actually two ways of formulating this question. So let’s start by the beginning.

Have your ever heard of Text Speak? According to the definition of the Oxford dictionaries this is a “language regarded as characteristic of text messages, consisting of abbreviations, acronyms, initials, emoticons”. Basically, text speaking allows the author/writer to shorten a statement by using some phonetic spellings or abbreviations that might substitute letters, numerals or characters.

So far, text speaking is a controversial form of communication and the main focus  is on the impact that it might have on language, as some specialists claim its negative impact on language skills leading to illiteracy on grammar and spelling.

Recently this topic was approached in an interesting infographic (from onlinecollege.org), where they also used the term ‘techspeak’, as the result of a massive use of social media and text messaging.

A recent study suggests that the frequent use of this hybrid type of communication can be negative for the young generations. According to the results of this study, the more often students use text speaking, the less they learn about grammar. The same study also states that students between 13 and 17 are the most likely to end up using ‘techspeaking’ in their schools tasks, leading to a wrong impression on their communicative skills.

‘Ur’ instead of ‘your’, ‘LOL’ – the most common one – replacing the expression ‘laughing out loud’, or ‘FYI’ for ‘for your information’, are just some of the examples of shortcuts used in this particular type of communication. What specialists are now questioning is the influence that it might have for communicative procedures.

The study revealed that people using this kind of communication tend to have difficulties when switching to traditional grammar. But there’s more. According to it, the more often these ‘users’ receive messages using text speaking (tech speaking), the bigger is the probability of sending messages within the same writing style.

While some consider it only as a rite of passage of a younger generation and highlight that it takes a certain level of literacy and imagination to invent and understand it, others condemn vehemently the use of text speaking. For some it is an act of vandalism towards language and they even call it “penmanship for illiterate”.

Dealing with text speaking…

Whether to accept or not this type of communication is another question that might pop-out at some point. Another question needs to be considered: could this be an evolution of language? If we compare, for example the Old English through Middle English, Early Modern English and present day Modern English, we surely notice several changes in grammar, punctuation and pronunciation.

For some experts, this particular ‘bad reputation’ of this type of communication is improper. David Crystal, a renowned linguist defends that text speaking actually enhance and enrich language skills and gives people a new option. He also says that the users know when to use it in the right context.

Considering the progression of digital resources and the ever-growing fast communication, with sometimes limited character spaces for messages, this tendency turns to be quite noticeable, a good example for that are the Facebook or Twitter posts.

Many will argue for and against the use and acceptance of text speaking messages, but in the end, text speaking seems to be here to stay and we just have to find a way of making this new form of communication live in perfect harmony with the accurate and traditional grammar and spelling. They might not live together, but who knows if they can coexist in peace.

Article written by Júlia de Sousa, trainee at TermCoord

About TermCoord

The Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Schuman Building on Place de l'Europe, Luxembourg
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5 Responses to Are You still writing well? Or R U still writing well?

  1. Nelida K. says:

    I tend to side with David Crystal. I love to use textspeak, mostly when I post in Twitter where I am constrained by the 40-character limit, and I don’t find that it has impinged on my writing prowess or skills, at all. I grant you that it can reflect badly on the writing capabilities of our young, but there it corresponds to the teachers and educators at large to set the limits and issue directives. Back in my day, and especially in business, we used already when sending telexes [you may have to look up in your dictionary to find out what these were :=)] abbreviations and acronyms such as FYI and nobody ever gave it a second thought, and nobody’s skills were impaired because of it. And we would have discarded the very notion of handheld devices as pure science fiction. What I mean is, we should not close our eyes to the danger but should not go as far as to demonize textspeak. Provided kids are duly informed that it’s a symbolic writing and not the real McCoy.
    BTW (smile), there is an “s” missing above in the sentence “a good example for that are the Facebook or Twitter post.” (it should be “posts”).

    • TermCoord says:

      Dear Nelida,

      Thanks you for the feedback and interest in our website!
      It’s always good to count on your input.

      Have a good day!

      The TermCoord Unit

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  3. Emily O. says:

    I agree with Nelida. However, coexistence is a healthy compromise. I too have sent telexes way back in the day. It never dawned on me that it has been 25 years since I used a telex machine! Wherefore art gone, time?

  4. Pingback: Wednesday Video Fix: John McWhorter – Txtng is killing language. JK!!! | TermCoord

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