Deaf Adolescents' Textisms

Deaf Adolescents' Textisms

Yoshiko Okuyama (University of Hawai'i at Hilo, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch112


This article starts with an overview of the existing literature on mobile communication and then presents a more detailed account of the current scientific knowledge in mobile communication and deaf studies, followed by a summary of the findings from the two case studies that the author recently conducted. The first study investigated how texting was used by deaf adolescents in Japan. The second study examined text messages written by U.S. deaf adolescents. Both studies collected a small corpus of dyadic messages exchanged via cell phone between two deaf high-school students at each residential school to examine the unconventional spellings typically used in text messages, or “textisms.” The characteristics of each text-message corpus (356 messages produced by the Japanese pair, and 370 messages by the U.S. pair) were analyzed in order to explore the features of textisms adopted by these deaf adolescents.
Chapter Preview


In the past decade, a great amount of research has been conducted on the informal, interactive nature of text messages and other online writing, such as e-mail and IM (Instant Messaging). Such research has focused particularly on the linguistic features of digital communication in English, as well as in other languages (e.g., Baron, 2008; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Castells et al., 2007; Ling & Baron, 2007; Plester et al., 2008; Segerstad, 2005; Shortis, 2007; Snowden, 2006; Miyake, 2007; Thurlow, 2006). Adolescents in developed countries have been the dominant consumers of mobile technology (Castells et al., 2007; Caron & Caronia, 2007; Katz, 2006), and the trend is going even younger. In the United States, the largest age group that prefers texting over other forms of communication has now moved down from 18-24 to 13-17 (Nelsen Wire, 2010). Adolescent and young-adult Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center (2011) reported that they send and receive 50 messages per day on the average. In Japan, the mobile phone is called keitai, and the number of keitai subscribers reached 132.76 million by March 2012, according to TheStatistical Handbook of Japan (2013) issued by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The most popular usage of cell phones among adolescents is keitai meeru, a Japanese equivalent of text-messaging (Breuer, 2009; Igarashi et al., 2005; Miyake, 2007). Although some studies have reported that the Internet and other modern technologies have been integrated into deaf individuals’ social lives, research on how deaf adolescents write text messages is extremely rare.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Deafness: An expression referring to a partial or complete lack of hearing (also termed hearing impairment) that implies a wide range of hearing losses and their cultural implications, although the distinction between being deaf and hard of hearing is usually made within the context of hearing difficulties measured in units of decibels (dB) for loudness and in hertz (Hz) for pitch or frequency.

JSL (Japanese Sign Language): A complex visual-spatial language that consists of manual signs combined with facial expressions and body postures used as one of the primary means of communication by many deaf and hear-of-hearing individuals in Japan, although the use of manually coded Japanese (pidgin signed Japanese) is still more dominant in public schools throughout the country.

Mobile Communication: A form of technology-mediated communication that enables the user of a mobile device to communicate with someone in a different location, for example, texting from a cell phone and sending email from a WiFi-equipped computer device (e.g., laptop, iPad).

Text Messages: Short messages composed with abbreviations and other texting features (see “textisms”) sent commonly with images, sounds, and/or video contents between two or more users of mobile phones, although the term was originally used to refer to messages via SMS (Short Message Service).

Technology and Disabilities: A field of studies that focuses on the development or application of various types of technologies including assistive technology (i.e., assistive or adaptive tools, equipment, software, or system such as hearing aids, cochlea implants, special keyboards, screen-readers, wheel chairs, prosthetic arms) for people with disabilities such as difficulty in hearing, seeing, writing, learning, walking, and holding or moving objects.

Textisms: Unconventional spellings used typically in texting messages that range from lexical to morpho-syntactic to orthographic features including, but not limited to, abbreviations (e.g., SUP! “What’s up?”), non-linguistic symbols (e.g., @, +), rebus writing made of letters and numbers (e.g., CU L8R “see you later”), pruned conventional spellings, particularly through omission of vowels (e.g., gd “good,” lst “last,” and wnt “want”), slang or code-like expressions (e.g., 411 “news,” or “something new”), and emoticons and other graphic icons.

Corpus Analysis: A linguistic approach to analyzing a corpus – a set of systematically or randomly collected and electronically stored ‘real-life’ language samples such as speeches, magazine articles, and texting messages – with a goal to discern certain rules of language use, grammatical or lexical patterns, for instance, that are germane to a particular genre or type of text, serving as a valuable source for dialectology, sociolinguistics and other related fields.

ASL (American Sign Language): A complex visual-spatial language that consists of manual signs combined with facial expressions and body postures used as the primary means of communication by many deaf and hear-of-hearing individuals in the United States and partially in Canada.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: