Linguistic Forms and Functions of SMS Text Messages in Nigeria

Linguistic Forms and Functions of SMS Text Messages in Nigeria

Rotimi Taiwo (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch068
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Abstract

The chapter examines the linguistic forms and functions of SMS text messages in Nigeria. With an estimated 25 million mobile phone users in Nigeria, the use of SMS is fast growing in Nigeria, just like in other parts of the world and this is leading to the gradual abandoning of the traditional oral culture, especially among the educated. In addition to the usual nonconventional orthographic forms and spelling typical of SMS, the study observes Nigerian users’ tenor consciousness, linguistic creativity, text multilingualism, the use of predominantly local languages, the emergence of NEB-SMS, and how the socio-economic and religious atmosphere of the country constrain SMSs. A greater demand is placed on ESL teachers to emphasize how style, context, purpose and audience determine linguistic choice. It is observed that the use of The chapter examines the linguistic forms and functions of SMS text messages in Nigeria. With an estimated 25 million mobile phone users in Nigeria, the use of SMS is fast growing in Nigeria, just like in other parts of the world and this is leading to the gradual abandoning of the traditional oral culture, especially among the educated ones. In addition to the usual nonconventional orthographic forms and spelling typical of SMS, the study observes Nigerian users’ tenor consciousness, linguistic creativity, text multilingualism, the use of predominantly local languages, the emergence of NEB-SMS, and how the socio-economic and religious atmosphere of the country constrain SMSs. A greater demand is placed on ESL teachers to emphasize how style, context, purpose and audience determine linguistic choice. Also it is observed that the use of indigenous languages will lead to their development and seek relevance for them in the digital technology era.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tenor: The term tenor refers to the participants and their relatiionships in a discourse.

Tenor: The term tenor refers to the participants and their relatiionships in a discourse.

CMC (Computer Mediated Communication): CMC is any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact or influence each other through separate computers through the Internet or a network connection. It includes SMS text messaging, Internet chat, instant messaging, e-mail, and so forth.

NEB-SMS (Nigerian English Based Short Message Service): This refers the kind of SMS composed by Nigerians which is derived from the domesticated form of English used for wider communication in Nigeria.

SMS Lingo: A vocabulary used by users of SMS. It is characterized by condensed expressions and nonconventional spellings, which are devised as means of maximizing the space available for composing SMS.

PEB-SMS (Proto English Based Short Message Service): This refers to the conventions common to all English-based SMS users all over the world. The PEB-SMS originates from America and Europe, but they are widely used by all English users of SMS.

ESL (English as a Second Language): The English used by someone whose mother tongue is not English. It is the English that has been institutionalized in the country of the speakers, which serves the function of wider communication among the linguistically heterogeneous groups that inhabit the country.

Emoticon: Emoticon is a word derived from the two words “emotions” and “icons.” Emoticons are a shorthand method of explaining expressions and feelings in SMS and Internet chat SMS: It is an abbreviation for “short message service” a feature available in most modern digital phones, that lets users receive and send short text messages (from 150 to 160 characters) to other cell phones.

New Englishes: A term for the emerging and increasingly autonomous varieties of English common in a nonwestern setting, especially former colonies of Britain, such as Singapore, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Ghana. They are also known as non-Anglo Englishes.

Emoticon: Emoticon is a word derived from the two words “emotions” and “icons.” Emoticons are a shorthand method of explaining expressions and feelings in SMS and Internet chat SMS: It is an abbreviation for “short message service” a feature available in most modern digital phones, that lets users receive and send short text messages (from 150 to 160 characters) to other cell phones.

CMC (Computer Mediated Communication): CMC is any form of communication between two or more individual people who interact or influence each other through separate computers through the Internet or a network connection. It includes SMS text messaging, Internet chat, instant messaging, e-mail, and so forth.

GSM: Stands for Global System for Mobiles. It is the international standard for wireless technology. GSM is a digital technology and therefore the call quality is of a very high standard. Calls are always clear and the network is very secure.

SMS Lingo: A vocabulary used by users of SMS. It is characterized by condensed expressions and nonconventional spellings, which are devised as means of maximizing the space available for composing SMS.

PEB-SMS (Proto English Based Short Message Service): This refers to the conventions common to all English-based SMS users all over the world. The PEB-SMS originates from America and Europe, but they are widely used by all English users of SMS.

NEB-SMS (Nigerian English Based Short Message Service): This refers the kind of SMS composed by Nigerians which is derived from the domesticated form of English used for wider communication in Nigeria.

New Englishes: A term for the emerging and increasingly autonomous varieties of English common in a nonwestern setting, especially former colonies of Britain, such as Singapore, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Ghana. They are also known as non-Anglo Englishes.

ESL (English as a Second Language): The English used by someone whose mother tongue is not English. It is the English that has been institutionalized in the country of the speakers, which serves the function of wider communication among the linguistically heterogeneous groups that inhabit the country.

GSM: Stands for Global System for Mobiles. It is the international standard for wireless technology. GSM is a digital technology and therefore the call quality is of a very high standard. Calls are always clear and the network is very secure.

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