Friday, January 21, 2011

txtng: some more db8

Today's Daily Telegraph upsets its readers with a report on new research from Coventry University about the effects of texting and mobile phone use on young people's literacy, namely the beneficial effects texting can have.

The research comes from Clare Wood and her team at Coventry (members of which came to SFX two years ago to talk about their work) and is part of a series of projects they have been involved in. Click on the texting label underneath this post to find all the other SFX blog posts about their work (and related articles).

To give you a taste of the reaction to this research from the Daily Telegraph readership, or at least the part of it that feels compelled to contribute to a message board, have a look at these extracts:

Really? These academics need to get out more and see the result of the texting game, many young people are not only unable to spell and write but sometimes incapable of expressing themselves. Wossit', innit' wha'ever, shu'up!!! 

I can only assume the researchers are from the same genetic pool that fill in recruitment forms for my company!?

This is just an attempt to cover up the failure of the teaching community to teach correct spelling and grammar.

The bankers get (rightly) criticised for wasting our money, it's about time these pseudo-scientific research studies get stamped-out. 

How on EARTH can "U alrite m8" boost spelling SKILLS?
What a load of stupid HOGWASH. 

Luckily, there are also some sane readers (OK, ones that I agree with) who have made a few interesting points about prescriptive attitudes to language change and the influence of technology, or about phonetic spelling actually being any use to English:

There have been numerous historical examples of shorthand writing that are reminiscent of texting, without civilisation coming to an end. It's just nothing new.

...you can always be sure with any technology that some will view it as the end of all things, and future generations will laugh at them. 

If English was a vaguely phonetic language, the article might make some sense. However, since we have 40 sounds in English but more than 200 ways of spelling them, I very much doubt that texting helps. 

David Crystal's Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 is a good introduction to some of the arguments about technology and language change, and he is of course one of the speakers at the Emagazine A  level English Language conference in March. Have a look here for more details about the conference and here for more links to articles and arguments about texting.

And, of course, all of this glosses over the true dangers of texting that can be seen here.

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