Guest Post: How Texting Affects the Vocabulary of the 21st-Century Generation

Guest Post By: Chassie Lee

The debate rages on, some arguing that texting marks the degradation of language, while others protest against such claims, suggesting instead that texting enriches the spoken language in ways not previously imagined.

Sociologists and psychologists have a keen interest in how texting affects language and social interaction. Studies illustrate that IMing and other forms of instant communication don’t replace conventional social interaction, but extend it. In fact, contrary to some studies, texting does not “dumb down” a child’s abilities, or limit their vocabulary.

Texting affects our generation’s vocabulary use, but not in a bad way, as many people argue. Texting is not merely abbreviated written language, it is the spoken word hastily but still intelligibly encoded for communication purposes. And this encoding necessitates skill, speed and efficiency.

Texting is informal, on-the-go speech. To equate texting with literature or to compare it with formal communication is to do justice to neither aspect of language. Texting is not meant to be formal or always accurate. It’s meant to be an instrument for facilitating our fast-paced lives and deal with our overwhelming workloads.

As John McWhorten adeptly explains in his TED talk and associated article in Time, “in its economy, spontaneity and even vulgarity, texting is actually a new kind of talking.”

Although words like LOL and other slang terms are often used in face-to-face conversations, this doesn’t imply that texting ruins or limits people’s vocabulary and eloquence. Rather than negatively affecting language, adept use of texting and instant messaging are in fact proof of language mastery. Texting is a tech-based linguistic skill that require perfect phonological awareness. Texting is not an arbitrary simplification of the written word. Its compactness follows rigorous phonological and syntax rules, otherwise it would make no sense to either sender and receiver.

Most students don’t attempt to write essays the way they compose text messages or tweets. They are fully aware of the differences in formality, function and aim of each tool, and each form of written communication.

Of course, it is important to educate and remind children that more professional and formal writing skills need to be improved upon by reading books, so that they are prepared for their educational and career requirements. However, it’s usually simply necessary to remind them that texting is only one way to communicate, and its usefulness shouldn’t be abused.


About the Author: Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator  of Ultimate Vocabulary which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

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