According to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Canadians exchange about 270 million text messages and 2.2 million multimedia messages every day.
According to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Canadians exchange about 270 million text messages and 2.2 million multimedia messages every day. Given the numbers and the fact people under the age of 25 are the main communicators, it’s no wonder there has been a sea of debates surrounding this particular method of communication and what it has in store for the future of the English language. These frequent users are in the developmental stages of their lives. Will text messaging erode the English language?
There are three arguments about texting.
Firstly, it harms the English language when those texting adopt a careless approach to their writing, which then carries over to every day life. Vocabulary is reduced because elaborations are avoided. Because text messaging often bypasses traditional writing and proper noun and verb usage, and rarely includes full sentences, it can erode writing and grammar skills.
Second, it has a positive effect on language because it forces youth to be writing more than ever. Perhaps this is a case of practice makes perfect?
And finally, texting has no effect at all. It’s a separate language people can choose to use when they like; it’s an evolution of language and a new communication system.
So which is it? Undoubtedly, grammar is most affected. Apostrophes, commas, colons, semi-colons, and periods require extra key strokes, so they’re often skipped. When writing a paper, how many can remember where to put all that punctuation? When we’re not forced to write out words and clauses, the rules of our language aren’t enforced. The run-on sentence has begun to reign supreme in status updates, emails, and many other forms of written communication. Check any popular communication forum and see the massacre of spelling and grammar. What happened to caring about proper spelling, grammar, and sentence structure?
But like any other discussion on the effects a certain behaviour has, it depends on the person. Often, the problem is not in the behaviour itself, it’s in the inability to recognize when it is suitable to use the form of communication or not. Many younger people don’t understand it’s not acceptable to type a smiley face or write LOL in an email to your boss, professors, etc.
In fact, many University professors include a section on their syllabus’ stating how they won’t accept text message style emails and how marks will be lost for using them in written papers. Without that switch saying it’s time to revert back to proper language, the English language is doomed.
Yes, I do text and abbreviate when necessary. But at the end of the day, I can still write correctly because I spent years learning and practicing English grammar and take pride in doing it correctly. If texting replaces this practice, grammar might be a dying discipline.
Allyson Beauregard, Editor