Gr8 Textpectations

May 16, 2013
As a total word nerd, I love all things related to English language: spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation, and, of course, word play. Even when it comes to text messages, I’m a stickler for proper punctuation, and tend to shy away from the use of popular abbreviations like “LOL”. But, being the grammar geek that I am, I often question whether or not text messaging and the use of social media platforms like Twitter–both of which have a character limit–are impacting the way we, as a society, are writing. What’s fair to expect these days given the prevalence of “abbrevs” and acronyms like “BTW”? In a digital age that often relies on brevity, is there room (literally and figuratively) for good grammar? Or are people forgetting how to write and/or speak in proper English? This awesome infographic from proves that texting is on the rise–and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. (That said, more and more people are communicating with emojis these days, so who knows?) A reported 15 million text messages were sent per minute in 2011, and that number is likely on the rise, especially among teens and tweens. Certain studies argue that there’s no link between poor grammar when texting and actual grammatical understanding, but in one survey, two-in-three teachers reported they regularly find text-speak in students’ homework. In fact, a college professor friend of mine recently received an email from one of her students that not only contained all lower-case letters, but also used “u” instead of “you”. A different student approached her during a final exam to ask what a paragraph was, and then wanted to know why he couldn’t make a bulleted list instead of using full sentences. It’s stories like these that make me nervous for the future of the English language. There are, of course, plenty of students who write beautifully and manage to shift seamlessly between text-speak and proper English. But is that the exception or the rule these days? What do you think, readers? We’d love to hear your thoughts on whether or not texting is hurting the English language. Image via Jason A. Howie