Textism Use and Language Ability in Children

Textism Use and Language Ability in Children

Sam Waldron (Coventry University, UK) and Clare Wood (Coventry University, UK)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch063
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Abstract

Textism use (or textese) refers to the way in which individuals write in shorthand on mobile devices in order to save space or time. Thurlow (2003) devised one of the first coding schemes for textisms, and textism use has since been hotly debated by the media (Crystal, 2008). Plester et al. (2008; 2009) and Wood et al. (2011; 2014) have since investigated the relationship that texting has with children's language abilities, and found no evidence of negative effects. Further research has been conducted into the effects of texting on readers of differing abilities (Coe & Oakhill, 2011) and found that it is better readers who tend to use more textisms. Further research is discussed in relation to children with reading difficulties such as specific language impairments (Durkin et al, 2011) and dyslexia (Veater et al, 2011).
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Introduction

Textisms, textese and text speak are all different ways in which current literature refers to the phenomenon of writing in shorthand within the confines of a text message or SMS (Crystal, 2008; Plester, Wood and Bell, 2008; Wood, Kemp & Plester, 2013.) Originally this developed as a way to save space in order to fit more information within an SMS to save on the cost of sending multiple messages (Mose, 2013). With the popularity of contract phones increasing (Ofcom, 2013) the cost of sending individual texts has decreased, yet textism use is still popular due to the social affordances it offers such as social belonging (Thurlow, 2003), the ability to express oneself (Plester, Wood & Joshi, 2009) and fun from ‘playing’ with language (Crystal, 2008). The popularity of texting has been declining in the UK since the beginning of 2012 (Ofcom, 2013) however, textism usage is apparent in other media such as instant messaging, e-mails and social networking (Ling & Baron, 2007). Due to the increase in smartphone ownership usage of these media is also increasing (Ofcom, 2013.) Thus, despite the receding popularity of texting, it seems that textism usage is here to stay.

When we look at the way in which texting shorthand is written we find that it is often likened to spoken casual language (Thurlow, 2003). Thurlow (2003) examined a corpus of teenager’s text messages and found that not only did texting reflect spoken language but that some also followed differing language conventions. Thurlow (2003) created a coding scheme to describe the differences between textism types, this included:

  • Shortenings, where word ends are omitted e.g ‘Mon’ for ‘Monday’,

  • Contractions, where vowels are omitted from the middle of words e.g. ‘txt’ for ‘text’,

  • G-clippings, where the ‘g’ is left off word endings e.g. ‘goin’ for ‘going’,

  • Other clippings, where other letters are left off word endings e.g. ‘hav’ for ‘have’,

  • Initialisms, where sentences are shortened to the first letter of each word e.g. ‘lol’ for ‘laugh out loud’,

  • Acronyms, these are similar to initialisms, but are considered acceptable in formal English e.g. ‘BBC’ for ‘British broadcasting’,

  • Letter/number homophones, these use numbers or individual letters to represent sounds in words e.g. ‘2night’ for ‘tonight,’ or ‘u’ for ‘you’,

  • Non-conventional spellings, these are words with differing orthography to the formal version of the word, but with intact phonology e.g. ‘nite’ for ‘night’,

  • Misspellings/ ‘typos’, are words which appear to have been attempted correctly, but do not have either the correct orthography or phonology e.g. ‘rember’ for ‘remember’,

  • Accent stylization, this refers to a word which is written in the same way as one would speak it out loud e.g. ‘gonna’ for ‘going too'.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dyslexia: A developmental disorder which is characterised by poor reading, writing and spelling.

Textese: The short hand way an individual writes, within the context of a text message.

Phonics: The auditory sounds that letters or groups of letters make.

Specific Language Impairment: A developmental disorder where individuals have difficulties with language which cannot be explained by IQ, sensory impairment or neurological damage.

Orthography: The representation of sounds via written letters.

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