The University of Toronto, Canada, has recently released a study showing that the English language doesn't suffer
at all from the abundance text messaging (SMS) and instant messaging (IM). The study, entitled "LOL for real! — Instant Messaging and Teen Language,"
shows that only about 2.4% of conversation over either of the text-based mediums involves shortened (or mutilated, your choice) words.
Oddly enough, it appears that for many of the 71 teens who participated in the test, the more freeform structure of some text messaging heightens their general awareness of grammar rules.
"There's a misconception this is sloppy and ruinous,"
says sociolinguist Sali Tagliamonte, who led the study. "It's not. It demonstrates kids are really creative with their language. It's a medium that lends itself to brevity so they have developed these short forms."
The study highlighted that many of the teens who used shorthand SMS also used more complete grammar in IM. This wide spectrum of use of the English language has led to some very interesting hybrid speech, including very formal language paired with slang terminology in the same sentence.
"It's the same language but just more of a mosaic of all its variables,"
study co-author Derek Denis said. "The fact they're using all of the forms available to them tells us it's certainly not ruining their language. It's just another medium to play with and be creative."
Tagliamonte stresses that, as a mother of four, she would be much more concerned with who her children are talking to than their choice of abbreviations. However, knowing how people can be, she is prepared for a flood of hate mail like she received from her last study, where she concluded that the word 'like' is not utterly ruining the English language.
So there you have it...contrary to popular belief, instant communication is not rotting our brains. Tell us your thoughts on the study iof ("in our forums")