Saturday, January 23, 2010

Texting: not the work of the dark lord himself & actually quite good for you

As if by magic, having posted yesterday on texting being linked to young people's illiteracy, a news article crops up saying that texting is actually good for you and can be shown to improve young people's communication and literacy skills. It's based on research by Clare Wood and Bev Plester and their team at Coventry University (the same people who brought you this and this) who say this about their work:

We began studying in this area initially to see if there was any evidence of association between text abbreviation use and literacy skills at all, after such a negative portrayal of the activity in the media. We were surprised to learn that not only was the association strong, but that textism use was actually driving the development of phonological awareness and reading skill in children. Texting also appears to be a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, which enables them to practise reading and spelling on a daily basis.

Emma Jackson and Lucy Hart, members of the Coventry team, did a talk for teachers at SFX last summer as part of our QIA Beacon Colleges workshops and their earlier research can be seen in this Powerpoint on the resources site, while this most recent research is available as a pdf here.

This is all good stuff for ENGA3 Language Discourses (A2 students) but equally it's excellent material for Language & Mode ENGA1, especially the material here on the British Academy's news release about the research.

  • Shortenings: cutting the end off a word, losing more than one letter, e.g. bro = brother.
  • Contractions: cutting letters, usually vowels, out of the middle of a word, e.g. txt, plz, hmwrk.
  • G Clippings: cutting off only the final g in a word, e.g. goin, comin, workin, swimmin. 
  • Other Clippings: cutting off other final letters, e.g. I’v, hav, wil, com.
  • Symbols: using symbols, including emoticons, and x used symbolically, e.g. &, @, ;-), :-p, xxx. 
  • Initialisms: a word or group of words is represented by its initial letter, e.g. tb = text back, lol = laughing out loud, gf = girlfriend. 
  • Letter/Number Homophones: a letter or number is used to take the place of a phoneme, syllable, or word of the same sound, e.g. 4, 2, l8r, u, r, c. 
  • Non-conventional Spellings: a word is spelled according to legitimate English phoneme-grapheme conversion rules, but not the conventional one used to spell the word, e.g. nite, cum, fone, skool. 
  • Accent Stylisation: a word is spelled as it is pronounced in casual speech, e.g. gonna, wiv = with, av = have, wanna, elp = help, anuva = another.
  • Missing Apostrophes: left out either in possessive or traditional contraction form, e.g. dads, Im, Ive, cant.

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