How texting affects writing styles
Communication has become both cheap and instantaneous as a result of technology. A large percentage of teenagers have access to computers and mobile phones. Communication patters are changing. Young people are likely to text or message each other rather than call a fact that has led to language transformation. Teenagers do not simply need to communicate but, they also do it fast. The writing style and language has changed to accommodate today’s fast paced life.
Though virtual space is unlimited, texting is constrained by the number of available characters. The number of characters is around 160 in a message. Due to this limit in number of characters, one is forced to compress the message so it fits within that limit. This has led to development of textspeak. In textspeak, one is supposed to pass the message across within the restricted number of characters. As the cliché states, necessity leads to invention: one is forced to abbreviate as a result of the limited character numbers. Also, there is systematization of abbreviations with time which leads to evolvement of new forms of writing.
My feeling initially was textspeak was killing language as we know it. However, reading the assigned reading and watching the video has given me a new perspective. Now, I understand language is not defined by the written word. Rather, the basis of language is the spoken word. The prevalent fear textspeak is becoming a blight of formal language is slightly dramatic. Expression of such fear is not a contemporary phenomenon. Over the years, scholars have expressed fear of demise of language as it was during their time.
Language has however survived and at present, we still have it. Language is dynamic therefore it keeps changing in order to cater to changing needs. Any language that is formulaic and reluctant to change often dies. Classical Latin is an excellent example. This was the language used by the elite. Only the population that was well educated, which was tiny compared to the overall population spoke the language. Because the language was rigid, it failed to evolve. With time and as the Roman Empire collapsed, the number of people able to speak it deceased. Eventually, it died out.
Clearly this was in contrast to Vulgar Latin which was the language for the masses. It evolved rapidly into current languages some of which include French and Spanish. Like modern textspeak, Vulgar Latin was a bastardization of Classical Latin and largely disdained by custodians of proper Latin. However, the language evolved and survived with the changing circumstances while Classical Latin suffered a slow death.
Under no stretch of imagination is texting a formal language. Teens view it as a form of speaking. They write it as if they were speaking to friends. It is because of this that texting is referred to as textspeak. Therefore, texting has the same disregard and loose grammatical structure for punctuation as informal speaking. There is a huge difference between writing and speaking. The effort of writing is a conscious one and it converts thoughts into written words. When one writes, they are supposed to consider formal rules of language. Before they write anything, an individual is supposed to think of whether the style they are using is grammatically correct.
Texting is also a form of writing. No rules are observed. The golden rule is passing the message. If an individual likes texting, it affects the manner in which they write in formal settings. First, writing is a mental process then mechanical. The writing style of an individual reflects the way they think. While texting, one can never think in a structured or formal manner. In some instance, it is even difficult to switch from informal mindset writing to a formal one. As a result, the informal texting influence affects formal style of writing. Grammar teachers often face the challenge of helping young people differentiate between what is grammatically acceptable and what is not.
Regardless of widespread outcry regarding negative influence of textspeak, I feel it is nit that evil. I think language is always evolving and dynamic. It is because of its flexibility that English has become an international language. English borrows ideas and words from other languages which it adds to its vocabulary. It has some of the widest vocabulary ranges. This is true testament to dynamism of English as a language. To me, the next most logical step to evolution of English is textspeak. Textspeak arose as a result of presently existing conditions.
The world has become more digitalized and more young people are now able to access computers and mobile phones. Therefore the trend of textspeak is highly likely to grow, not reduce. Most languages across the world experience the ‘problems’ of textspeak. Young people are redefining the structure, manner and rules of expressing language. Technology is not going anywhere. Its use will be more pervasive as the digital divide between the developing and developed nations reduces. Young people will join the global textspeak conversation as internet connectivity penetrates to the remotest areas. Texting influence is likely to increase in formal writing, not reduce.
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