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Kids' language skills just fine

Researcher: 'Everybody thinks kids are ruining their language by using instant messaging, but these teens' messaging shows them expressing themselves flexibly through all registers.'
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Written by ZDNet Editors, Contributors on

Some say that being able to use the English language properly is a sign of good breeding and education, and others feel that English is in constant metamorphosis as new words and word usages are being introduced into the lexicon every day. But how is computerese affecting our language?

According to a new study from the University of Toronto, the slang and abbreviations used for instant messaging are not hurting the speech or grammar of teens, reports Personal Tech Pipeline.

"Everybody thinks kids are ruining their language by using instant messaging, but these teens' messaging shows them expressing themselves flexibly through all registers," linguist Sali Tagliamonte said in a prepared statement. "They actually show an extremely lucid command of the language. We shouldn't worry."

Presenting their findings at the Linguistics Society of Canada and the United States, Tagliamonte and Derek Denis studied about 70 Toronto teens and compared their use of language in speech and instant messaging. The study found that instant messaging language mirrors patterns in speech but that teens fuse informal and formal speech.

"What that tells us is that they have a fluid mastery of the language," Denis said. "They're using it creatively and vibrantly and, most important, they're using it correctly," the researchers said in a statement.

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