Fears about the impact SMS-speak – crunchedlanguage with abbreviations and shortened words
– is having on our language skills are not new. This particular study at the University of Calgary
is only the latest in a line of them purporting to show causal links between people employing
such language – created because of the inconvenience of typing long messages on a phone
keyboard, character limits etc – and their ability to use or learn more conventional language. But
there are two problems with such studies. The first is that there are just as many studies
showing that texting could actually improve children’s language skills. And the other is the false
assumption that any change in the way we use language is to be bemoaned.

From researchers at Coventry University in the UK to those at Canadian and Australian
universities, multiple studies have shown that text-speak doesn’t necessarily denote laziness or
poor language skills. What it does show is linguistic ingenuity and creativity, particularly among
children. To come up with innovative short cuts demands a certain level of linguistic
sophistication. Further, some of these stu-dies have also shown that texting could help children
develop reading skills, since it involves exposure to the written word in a context that they
would enjoy.

Given this evidence, objections to text-speak seem predicated more on the principle of the thing
– an objection to the aesthetics of traditional language being massaged to fit within new
parameters. But such fears have accompanied every innovation in the way we communicate.
The advent of the printing press caused a great outcry; many at the time thought that nothing
good would come out of it. The invention of the telephone brought its own share of worries. But
in every such instance, language has evolved, and it has thrived. Form does not necessarily
dictate function and substance. That’s a point missed entirely by traditionalists.

(Source: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-03/edit-page/31117452_1_illiterate-impression-language-skills-text-speak)

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