Text messaging and the death of the English language

Or Gaelic, I guess. CNN.com reported Thursday on an Irish study demonstrating that text messaging has a negative impact on written language skills in teens.

Or Gaelic, I guess. CNN.com reported Thursday on an Irish study demonstrating that text messaging has a negative impact on written language skills in teens.  While a true causal link was not established by the study, researchers did find a significant correlation between increased usage of SMS and instant messaging and increases in punctuation and grammar mistakes.  This will come as no surprise to most teachers who regularly receive papers with a dismal demonstration of basic English skills.

CNN quotes the article from the Irish Times:

"The emergence of the mobile phone and the rise of text messaging as a popular means of communication would appear to have impacted on standards of writing as evidenced in the responses of candidates," the report said, according to Wednesday's Irish Times. "Text messaging, with its use of phonetic spelling and little or no punctuation, seems to pose a threat to traditional conventions in writing."

On the other hand, we're promoting increased use of SMS for safety purposes in educational settings here in the States and recent reports have suggested that email may be largely replaced in the near future by SMS/IM.  While I'm not particularly impressed with this idea, it is clear that text messaging is not going away as a form of communication any time soon.  Add this to the list of forms of communication we need to be teaching now.  After all, students find little difficulty in switching between colloquial speech with their friends and more adult-oriented (and often grammatically-correct) speech when addressing adults.  There is no reason that students can't learn to make this same distinction  between SMS-speak and the real English language. 

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