Warning: The following language is not intended for overly mature readers
“nm, what u up 2 tonite?”
“drnkn, u in?”
The preceding was an actual texting conversation between a friend and I. Besides lighting up Microsoft word with squiggly red and green lines, these symbols actually stand for something very important–a development in the usage of the English language. Because of the rapid-fire nature in which texts are sent, it becomes imperative for a text message to use as few letters as possible to maximize output. Standard spelling, being inefficient, is virtually extinct to the world of texting.
Old-fashioned attitudes will probably dismiss the value of Textese (texting language) because of its radical differences with proper English language usage. They may call it ridiculous and chastise it for reducing literacy and crippling the spelling abilities of youths.
There is simply no way that literacy is reduced because of texting, in fact, you can feasibly argue the opposite. Look at it like this: an illiterate kid from the 70’s would not struggle to socialize on the same level as his peers– you don’t need to read or write to talk. Now, imagine that same kid in modern society. How would he (being illiterate) be able to socialize on the same level as his peers (texting, facebooking, emailing, internet, etc.)? He couldn’t. The proliferation of technology and innate social instincts would have forced him to at least have a working knowledge of written English. In 20 years I am sure literacy will have improved in part because of texts and email.
What concerns me is the lack of grammar in textese. What happens when today’s preteens, texting’s most active demographic, reach high school and college and are asked to write a well though out essay in proper grammar, without the aid of a computer (Blue Book test anyone*)? Will grammar form to the mold of texting, just like spelling has? It’s tough to tell for sure.
To those who still see texting as the bane of modern English, look closer—there are some clear benefits.
*Minus a letter grade for misusing 2/to/too. Minus 2 letter grades for misspelling tonight. Complete and utter failure and dismissal from school if the letter 8 shows up meaning anything other than its numerical value.
CU L8R EVRY1!!